e-CBMP Newsletter
Fall 2013
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Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program            Volume 7 Issue 2

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In this Issue...


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chairletterFrom the Chairs
Dear Friends,

Welcome back after your summer holidays and fieldwork!


As new chairmen we have been working hard in continuing the successful development of the CBMP. With Canada's success, led by Mike Gill's determination, dedication and extensive experience in chairing the CBMP, we've had some big shoes to fill. We'd also like to recognize and thank the Canadian team behind Mike and the major efforts put forth by the CAFF Secretariat. As co-chair's we have been developing teams that bring relevant resources and expertise to maintain the continued success of this world-class monitoring program.


It's been a busy summer and as the work continues there are many more eyes on communities and resources across the circumpolar Arctic. Continued progress in working internationally is at the forefront. Time differences, language differences, lack of infrastructure to reach many of these locations, climatic conditions and physical geography of the Arctic are just some of the difficulties that hinder communicative processes. Nonetheless, there are many examples of successful collaboration occurring at all levels. Involvement in international workshops, forums, conferences, and gatherings of the like, is allowing stakeholders representing a broad spectrum to discuss workings of their collaboration and have advanced our work substantially. With major contributions from so many partners such as the CBD, CMS, GEOBON, GBIF and others outlined in this issue we continue to make progress every day.


As you may recall, our first task over the summer was to develop a new four-year work plan to guide efforts and ensure continuity. The four-year strategy was submitted to the CAFF Board and recently approved. The overall focus of the strategy is to ensure that the marine, freshwater and terrestrial Arctic Biodiversity Monitoring Plans developed under the CBMP expert groups will continue to progress and that activities under these groups will continue to expand in the coming years. Also, look forward to seeing the Terrestrial Plan in coming months as it has been approved and will be released publically in October. 


Hope that you enjoy the newsletter and wish you all a wonderful autumn,

John Payne and Tom Christensen, Co-Chairs

Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program


CBMP contributing to major international biodiversity initiatives


Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD): Monitoring implementation of the Strategic Plan for biodiversity in the Arctic
CBD At its eleventh meeting in 2012 the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), in decision XI/6 recognized the role of CAFF, and the CBMP as its monitoring program, in contributing to monitoring and assessing the implementation of the CBD in the Arctic and called for enhanced collaboration. At its next meeting in Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea in 2014, the Conference of the Parties will undertake a mid-term review of progress towards the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. The work undertaken through the CBMP will represent an important source of information to this process and will be particularly relevant to the preparation of the fourth edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook.
Prior to that, the scientific body under the Convention (SBSTTA) (SBSTTA17, Montreal, Canada, October 2013) will review the scientific and technical needs relating to the achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets which are central to the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity. The approaches developed under the CBMP and other activities of CAFF are highly relevant to this meeting as well as to that of the working group on traditional knowledge under the Convention in the week before. Additional activities at the margins of these meetings include a number of topical side events and an expert workshop on enhancing biodiversity data and observing systems in support of the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, organized in collaboration with GEOBON, in which the CBMP will play an active role.
Details of cooperation between the CBD and CAFF can be found in the organizations' Resolution of Cooperation.
Current priorities and activities of the Convention of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) in the Arctic

CMS The Secretariats of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and its daughter Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) are working with CAFF through Resolutions of Cooperation to improve the conservation status of migratory species that use the Arctic as an essential breeding and feeding area during their wider travels. The Arctic hosts many migratory species such as the blue and fin whale, the harbour seal, sharks and birds such as the red knot, which are listed on the CMS Appendices.


AEWA Sharing of information and data assessments on migratory species between the CMS family and CAFF is their priority. To initiate their cooperation, the organizations are fundraising to develop and Arctic Breeding Migratory Bird Atlas within the CBMP-developed Arctic Species Trend Index to analyse existing data to better understand migratory bird routes, the threats to them, and ultimately trans-boundary management needs.


Arctic Tern. Photo: Sergey Dereliev, CMS
Arctic tern. Photo: Sergey Dereliev, CMS
The organizations are involved with each other's working groups, such as CMS Working Groups on: Flyways; Migratory Landbirds in the African-Eurasian Region; Aquatic Mammals; and Climate Change. AEWA is represented on
CAFF's Circumpolar Seabird Expert Group (CBIRD) . CMS also looks forward to CAFF participation in a future strategic review of protected area systems and ecological network initiatives.
Details of cooperation between CAFF, the CMS, and the AEWA can be found in their respective ROCs: Resolution of Cooperation (CAFF-CMS), Resolution of Cooperation (CAFF-AEWA).

The CBMP as the official Arctic Biodiversity Observation Network of the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON)

The Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON) is facilitating the development of a coordinated, global observation network that gathers and shares information on the world's biodiversity. The contributions made by regional Biodiversity Observation Networks or BONs, are critical to achievement of this goal. They provide the puzzle pieces that collectively will give us a better understanding of the status of and trends in biodiversity across the globe. Developing a comprehensive picture of how biodiversity is changing around the world is critical particularly when assessing the effects of, and responses to, global or regional drivers of biodiversity loss.


The CBMP as the Arctic BON has a particularly important role to play. The CBMP contributes to GEO BON not only by providing access to data, but also as an active participant in some of the working groups and through representation on its Steering Committee. 
GEO BON is currently developing a set of Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) and is running a survey to gauge opinions on suggested variables. Take the survey here and have your say! All feedback is welcome. 
In this time of unprecedented environmental changes in the Arctic, it is essential to keep fingers on the pulse of biodiversity. Understanding how and why species and ecosystems are changing provides an opportunity for the implementation of appropriate management and policy responses thus improving not only environmental management, but also human well-being. 
Contact: Michele Walters, Executive Officer, GEO BON
Collaboration between CAFF's CBMP and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) to support data exchange

The  Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) provides a window on the documented occurrence of the world's species, over time and across the planet. By encouraging and enabling holders of datasets to publish them in standard digital formats, GBIF integrates diverse data dispersed in thousands of collections, from the earliest days of nature exploration to the latest monitoring by research expeditions and citizen scientists.


In the case of the Arctic, GBIF brings together more than three million records covering nearly 20,000 species. These records are shared from over 1,100 separate datasets held in 30 countries. The data freely accessible through GBIF have enabled significant research on Arctic biodiversity including  predictions of the impacts of environmental change on pelagic seabird populations, and modelling the future distribution of Arctic foxes.  


Seven of the eight Arctic Council member states are Participants in GBIF, which works through a system of national 'nodes' coordinating data mobilization. This makes CAFF and GBIF natural partners, and GBIF wants to ensure that data are exchanged freely between CBMP and GBIF. GBIF looks forward to fruitful collaboration that will benefit both initiatives, enhancing knowledge about Arctic biodiversity and the means to conserve and use it sustainably.


Click here to access GBIF data relating to biodiversity north of the Arctic Circle. Please note that this links to a test version of the new GBIF portal, which launches in October 2013.


Contact: The Global Biodiversity Information Facility 


CBMP works with Biodiversity Indicators Partnership (BIP) to contribute to global indices and indicator development


The CBD-mandated Biodiversity Indicators Partnership (BIP) is a global initiative to promote and coordinate the development and delivery of biodiversity indicators for improved monitoring and assessment of biodiversity.


BIP is the primary mechanism for monitoring progress towards the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. In the first instance, 17 of the 20 Aichi targets are covered by at least one of the BIP indicators. In the coming years the Partnership will endeavour to fill gaps and expand its set of indicators to ensure that a comprehensive framework of global indicators is available to monitor progress towards the suite of Aichi Biodiversity Targets.


The CBMP, as a regional partner contributes to these efforts through its extensive indices and indicators development. The CBMP's indicator work on the Arctic Species Trend Index, protected areas, linguistics and other selected indicators of change help supports the following Aichi Targets pertaining to the following issues:

  • Target 5- habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation
  • Target 6- sustainable harvest
  • Target 9- invasive species
  • Target 10- vulnerable ecosystems
  • Target 11- protected areas
  • Target 12- avoided extinction
  • Target 14- ecosystem services


The CBMP is one of over forty BIP partners working internationally on indicator development to provide the most comprehensive information on biodiversity trends. The CBMP has also developed A Strategy for Developing Indices and Indicators to Track Status and Trends in Arctic Biodiversity. For more information on the BIP, visit the BIP website.


CBMP News, Events & Initiatives


Marine: Update on the Arctic Marine Biodiversity Monitoring Plan
Cover Shot of CBMP Marine Plan
The Arctic Biodiversity Monitoring Plan. Click to download.


The Marine Steering Group and Marine Expert Networks are currently busy preparing for their upcoming Annual CBMP-Marine Steering Group and Expert Network meeting which will take place in Akureyri, Iceland from October 29-31. 


This meeting will bring together experts involved in sea ice, plankton, benthos, fish, marine mammals and seabirds. Representatives from other Arctic Council Working Groups including PAME and AMAP, along with representatives from the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists will also attend. 


The meeting will provide an opportunity to review progress over the past year, compile results from the work that has been done, and plan for the continuation of work in 2014. The marine experts hope to discuss how to work more closely and strengthen the collaboration with other Working Groups of the Arctic Council. 


The Marine Steering Group is very pleased to welcome a new member, Elizabeth McLanahan, Director of the NOAA Office of International Affairs and Senior Advisor to the NOAA Administrator. She is the Vice-chair and U.S. member to PAME .

Contact: Corinne Pomerleau, Secretariat, CBMP-Marine Plan

Freshwater: The Arctic Freshwater Biodiversity Monitoring Plan: implementation update 

Arctic Freshwater Biodiversity Monitoring Plan
The Arctic Freshwater Biodiversity Monitoring Plan. Click to access.

National Freshwater Expert Networks (FENs) and the CBMP Freshwater Steering Group (CBMP-FSG) are cooperating to accumulate existing and new data on (1) biodiversity and (2) abiotic components that strongly affect biota for the purpose of undertaking circumpolar freshwater assessments.


The recently released Arctic Freshwater Biodiversity Plan (The Freshwater Plan) is composed of five projects that will be completed by the FENs and coordinated by the CBMP-FSG. Currently, the CBMP-FSG members are seeking funding for the five projects from their country authorities. Projects one to three will involve the collection of existing circumpolar freshwater data. In Project four, sampling methodology will be contrasted across the Arctic nations to determine comparability of the freshwater data. Finally, Project five will involve national assessments of freshwater biodiversity, leading to a circumpolar assessment of status and trends in Arctic freshwaters by the CBMP-FSG for the 2016 State of Arctic Freshwater Biodiversity Report


The Freshwater Plan details the rationale and framework for improvements related to the monitoring of freshwaters of the circumpolar Arctic, including ponds, lakes, their tributaries and associated wetlands, as well as rivers, their tributaries and associated wetlands.  


Contact: Joseph Culp and Willem Goedkoop, Freshwater Steering Group Co-Chairs

Watch the Freshwater video on YouTube
Freshwater video: available on YouTube
A short video has been developed to highlight the Arctic Freshwater Biodiversity Monitoring Plan. In under four minutes learn about the scope, goals and activities outlined in The Freshwater Plan.

In addition, a scientific poster has been developed to showcase The Freshwater Plan in various scientific conference poster sessions. Access The Arctic Freshwater Biodiversity Monitoring Plan poster here.

Contact: Courtney Price, CAFF Secretariat

Terrestrial:The Arctic Terrestrial Biodiversity Monitoring Plan approved, ready for October release

The CAFF Board approved The Arctic Terrestrial Biodiversity Monitoring Plan at their most recent meeting September 10-12 in Yellowknife, Canada.


The document will undergo layout and is anticipated to be published and available for download from the CAFF website in October. For more information and updates please see the Terrestrial Monitoring section of the CAFF website.


Contact: Tom Christensen or John Payne, CBMP Co-Chairs 


Arctic Institute of North America (AINA) examining implementation of CBMP protocols at Northern Canadian Research Facilities

The Arctic Institute of North America (AINA), University of Calgary is examining CBMP Arctic Terrestrial Biodiversity Monitoring Plan implementation feasibility at northern Canadian research stations. This study is supported by Environment Canada. AINA, home to the Kluane Lake Research Station (KLRS) in Yukon, is a member of the Canadian Network of Northern Research Operators (CNNRO) and the International Network for Terrestrial Research and Monitoring in the Arctic (INTERACT).


The goal is to engage station mangers, the research community, and agencies charged with monitoring terrestrial biodiversity and resource management, in a dialogue to:

  1. Assess alignment between current station-based activities (research and monitoring) and proposed CBMP activities;
  2. Determine opportunities for harmonization with the CBMP Terrestrial Plan;
  3. Identify necessary resources and capacity building requirements for enabling uptake of monitoring of Focal Ecosystem Components identified by the CBMP;
  4. Assess how implementation of the CBMP recommendations might improve research (capacity and results), decision-making, and the exchange of data and information among Canadian stations, researchers, and agencies, and with the international terrestrial research and monitoring communities.

AINA will implement a survey to elicit input from key parties following preliminary discussions at the INTERACT Station Managers Forum at the Abisko Scientific Research Station, Sweden on September 25-28, 2013. Initial results will be available for continued discussion at the CNNRO meeting in December in Halifax. Following open review, a final report will be released in Spring 2014.


Organizers welcome any questions about this study, or offers of input and survey participation.

Contact: Sian Williams, Station manager, KLRS, AINA, University of Calgary and Maribeth S. Murray, Executive Director, AINA, University of Calgary

Partner News: focus on international cooperation


International cooperation in Arctic biodiversity monitoring from the World Ocean Council


WOClogo The World Ocean Council (WOC) - the international business alliance on "Corporate Ocean Responsibility" - brings together companies from across the sectors to develop industry leadership and collaboration in ocean sustainability, science and stewardship. WOC Members include companies from marine science and technology, seabed mining, mining, oil/gas, shipping, fishing, offshore renewables and other sectors.


Because the kinds and levels of economic activity in the Arctic are growing, the private sector is an essential partner in addressing the challenges of responsible Arctic use, including monitoring biodiversity. Many companies are working to bring good science and risk assessment to understanding and addressing their Arctic activities.


WOC has catalyzed the development of a multi-industry Arctic Business Leadership Council (read the report for the September 16, 2012 meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland here). WOC is also creating multi-industry working groups to address cross-cutting sustainability challenges, e.g., marine sound, marine invasive species, etc., including the "Smart Ocean/Smart Industries" program, which is working to increase the number of companies sharing environmental data from baseline studies and monitoring and collecting ocean data from their vessels and platforms.


The Arctic will be a major focus area for the WOC "Smart Ocean/Smart Industries" efforts to scale up the role of industry in collecting and sharing data.


Contact: Paul Holthus, President, World Ocean Council




Seatrack project at Novaya Zemlya: Migration and winter distribution of Barents Sea seabirds  poorly investigated due to difficulty of direct observation

Brunnich's Guillemot (Thick Billed Murre) Photo: Verena Gill, USGS

The Norwegian-Russian "Seatrack" project is utilizing Geolocators or Global Location Sensing (GLS) loggers to improve the method of obtaining and mapping the daily positions of Arctic birds in the islands and archipelagos of the Barents Sea.


During July and August this year, 40 loggers were mounted on Brunnich's Guillemots at their nest colonies in the Oransky Islands, north of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago at the"Russian Arctic" national park. These birds will be recaptured next year in order to retrieve loggers and record valuable information on the wintering, moulting and migration locations of the birds. This new information will assist in the management of seabird populations and marine ecosystems.


Mapping these locations is highly important for the management of the endangered Brunnich's Guillemot, a species highly affected by water pollution and fishing. The species is a top predator and key component of the marine ecosystem and is considered representative of the status marine environment as a whole.


"Seatrack" is included in the 2013-2015 work plan of the Russian-Norwegian Environmental cooperation in the Barents Sea Region. 


Contact: Irina Pokrovskaya, PhD, Institute of Geography, RAS,Moscow




Canadian contribution to Arctic megabenthic diversity monitoring
Photo: Benthic Ecology Lab, UQAR-ISMER, ArcticNet/Qu�bec Oc�an, CHONe

While increasing scientific attention has been directed to the Arctic marine ecosystem in the past two decades to document present biodiversity and to monitor climate changes, few extensive studies has been conducted on the mega-epibenthic component of seafloor communities, which plays an important role in carbon cycling on Arctic shelves and as prey for several species. 
From 2007 to 2011, faunal samples were collected on the shelf and the slope of the Canadian Arctic (across 70� longitude) at 78 sites with a trawl between 30 and 1000 m depth. The total taxon richness (528 taxa) of the study area was high compared to other Arctic studies using similar sampling methodology (e.g., Chukchi Sea, Svalbard waters). 
Photo: Laure de Montety, Benthic Ecology Lab, UQAR-ISMER, Project BREA
This database 
will serve as a benchmark against which to monitor future changes in diversity and community distribution, and will further contribute to a pan-Arctic inventory of the biodiversity of the benthic fauna (database of the CBMP benthic expert group) in order to monitor temporal trend, species range shifts and introduction of invasive species. 
This study was part of the three major Canadian Networks (ArcticNet, CHONe, Qu�bec-Oc�an), and the Mackenzie Shelf-Beaufort Sea data are going to be available to be integrated in USA-Canada initiatives such as Beaufort Regional Environmental Assessment (BREA).


Contact: Virginie Roy, Universit� du Qu�bec � Rimouski, Katrin Iken University of Alaska Fairbanks, and Philippe Archambault, Universit� du Qu�bec � Rimouski




Yukon government partners with Alaska and NWT for management of shared species

Chisana caribou herd. Photo: Yukon Government


Working across borders has proven beneficial to wildlife management in north-west North America. The Yukon government conducts several monitoring and management activities of migratory species in partnership with its "neighbours" - the Northwest Territories government (GNWT) and the Alaska state government. Together they share data and data collection expenses to ensure efficient use of resources with respect to three caribou herds and the coastal polar bear population.


One project focused on the population recovery of the Chisana caribou herd. Its range on the Klutan Plateau includes Yukon and Alaska. The Yukon Department of Environment has worked for many years with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) on this effort. Currently the herd numbers 700 caribou and is considered stable. By capturing pregnant cows and enclosing them in a holding pen for the last weeks of gestation and a few weeks following calving, calves had a better chance of surviving the critical early days of life. Initially the calves born in captivity demonstrated a higher survival rate than wild-born calves. However, the wild-born calf survival rate improved and, as a result, the program was ended. View the  Management Plan for the Chisana caribou herd .


The Forty Mile caribou range. Photo Andre Langlois

The Forty Mile caribou herd, which ranges in both Yukon and Alaska, now numbers over 50 000 caribou, a healthy increase over the historic lows (~10 000) of the late 1970s and early 1980s.  The Yukon Department of Environment works in cooperation with the ADFG to monitor range expansion; over the past 10 years the herd has started to use its historic range in north-central Yukon again. Read Habitat Selection Forty Mile Caribou in the Dawson Region Late Winter and the Forty Mile Caribou Herd Harvest Plan 2012-2018.


The Porcupine caribou herd is a highly valued population of barren ground caribou that ranges widely across northern Alaska, Yukon and NWT. The Yukon government works with the ADFG and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) on the monitoring and sharing of the herd, which currently numbers about 169,000 animals. Through the Porcupine Caribou Management Board the Yukon government works with representatives from Canada's federal government, the GNWT, Yukon First Nations and indigenous governance bodies. Work is now underway to implement the board's Harvest Management Plan to help ensure the herd's long-range survival. For more information visit the Porcupine caribou herd web page.


Through various agreements, the Yukon government also works with the GNWT, the Inuvialuit and the Inupiat on the monitoring and management of the polar bear population on the territory's north coast. 


 Contact: Todd Powell, Manager, Biodiversity Programs, Environment Yukon




Peregrine Fund launches Tundra Conservation Network

Gyrfalcon. Photo: �lafur Larsen


The Peregrine Fund of Boise, Idaho, USA, has launched a research coordination network on the ecology and function of Arctic tundra under climate change. The network pulls together scientists representing all eight Arctic nations and who represent diverse scientific disciplines, including predator-prey population dynamics, landscape ecology, tundra vegetation dynamics, and climatic and ecological modelling.


The Network is designed to build knowledge on the consequences of climate change on community stability and ecosystem function, and to identify specific processes, interactions, or species that can then serve as foci for long-term monitoring.  By incorporating partners across international boundaries and scientific disciplines, the aim is to generate knowledge of greater complexity and at greater geographical scales than can be accomplished by individuals or smaller groups.  The ultimate goal is to use data and knowledge that are collected, shared, or generated by the Network, its partners, and through its activities to provide needed information to land managers and policy makers around the Arctic in an effort to preserve biodiversity and ecosystem structure and function in Arctic tundra.

Contact: David Anderson, The Peregrine Fund



The Arctic char of Lake Rostuj�vri - a competition and climate change induced enigmatic resource for anglers

Rostuj�vri char. Photo: Johan Hammar


Researchers from Sweden and Scotland studied a shift in fish species on Lake Rostuj�vri in northernmost Sweden as requested by the local S�mi running a fishing camp for anglers. The results highlight that global warming in the North negatively affects the survival of the sensitive Arctic char by favouring competitors more adapted to warmer water.


Lake Rostuj�vri has been regarded as a national prime angling site for large Arctic char. Fisheries focusing on char seems to have contributed to a long term shift in the species balance.


Scientific work on Lake Rostuj�vri. Photo: Johan Hammar

Comprehensive analyses of four species caught with experimental gillnets in August 2003 revealed concordant evidence of a fish community dominated of grayling, boosted by an increase in summer temperature, and repeated rich year class production during years with low precipitation and high summer temperatures. As only young char were caught, a temporary migratory escape from increasing temperature, inter-specific interactions is suggested. 


Char from the S�mi ice fishery in May 2004 revealed the missing size and age groups in August 2003 to have returned to the lake. Their otoliths demonstrated yearly check-marks from reduced growth from the third summer, indicating corresponding habitat shifts into downstream environments with lower temperature. The report will be available for downloaded shortly at the following location.


Contact: Johan Hammar, Arctic char programme, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences 



Arctic Biodiversity Data Service (ABDS)
Graphics from the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment now available
Arctic Biodiversity graphics and appendices available here. Photo: Carsten Egevang/ARC-PIC.com

Graphics and appendices from the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (ABA) reports are available on the ABDS website. Click here to access all ABA related graphics and appendices. Alternatively, access ABA and other CAFF generated data by exploring species, stressors, ecosystems, and indices and networks.

Ecosystems information available

New information on the Arctic freshwater, marine and terrestrial ecosystems has been uploaded to the ecosystems section of the ABDS site.
Explore ecosystems here.

New links to other dynamic data resources available on ABDS
Access other dynamic data sets here.
ABDS is developing links and connections with other Arctic data providers. Have a look at the dynamic data section of the ABDS to connect with various resources.

Contact: Hallur Gunnarsson, CAFF Data Manager
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