e-CBMP Newsletter
Spring 2019
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Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program            Volume 12 Issue 1

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Arctic lakes and rivers losing the ability to sustain current level and diversity of Arctic FRESHWATER species: new report
Increased warming pushing Arctic freshwater ecosystems to the brink

Climate change and development threaten the health of Arctic freshwater ecosystems, with continued warming pushing cold-water species unique to the Arctic-such as the Arctic char-to the brink of regional loss, and increasing the likelihood of toxic cyanobacteria blooms, says the State of the Arctic Freshwater Biodiversity Report released 7 May, 2019.

According to the report produced by experts from the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna's Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program (CBMP), warming is reducing what can be considered as Arctic, with southern species moving northward, and cold tolerant species facing possible local extinction when they can't adapt or compete for resources.

The report provides a circumpolar synthesis of the state of knowledge about biodiversity in Arctic lakes, rivers, and associated wetlands. It identifies changes and knowledge gaps in fish, benthic macroinvertebrates, zooplankton, algae, and macrophytes, and can provide insights into the overall health of freshwater ecosystems and their ability to provide essential services on which people rely. For the first time, experts have compiled a circumpolar database on freshwater biodiversity to keep knowledge easily updated and available. When possible, data will be made accessible on the Arctic Biodiversity Data Service.

The report also identifies Arctic countries' efforts and gaps in monitoring key elements of Arctic ecosystems, highlighting what countries can do to improve the ability to detect and report on significant changes in the Arctic.

Specifically, the report calls for better coordination, standardization of methods, increased use of emerging technologies (such as remote sensing and DNA barcoding), improved consideration of Traditional Knowledge and Local Knowledge, better engagement with local and Indigenous communities, and a commitment to support continued development and maintenance of the CBMP.

COASTAL Monitoring Plan approved - synthesis report planned for 2023
Download Plan Here

For the past three years, the Coastal Expert Monitoring Group (CEMG) has worked with Traditional Knowledge and science experts to build a framework for monitoring and assessing coastal biodiversity. The coastal monitoring plan uniquely focuses on building a platform that will support a co-production of knowledge to bring together knowledge from Indigenous Peoples and scientists. While much work is needed to fully develop a co-production of knowledge approach and to ensure implementation where appropriate, this report represents a step forward for CAFF.

Bringing together these knowledge systems require making space for processes and understandings within both. This is evident in the approach taken to define what a coastal ecosystem is.  Since a simple line of bathymetry could not capture the scope of coastal species and communities, the group worked with experts to define the coast in terms of processes, and by its use by coastal species and communities. This approach further supports both an Indigenous understanding of adjusting boundaries and a scientific approach of static boundaries  - "The coastal domain is that component of the marine-land interface directly influenced by coastal processes, used by Focal Ecosystem Components/species as habitat, and is significant within the social ecological system of coastal communities. This boundary is thus fluid and varies by season, geographic situation, FECs/species, management context and human use."

To provide a holistic and integrated frame for implementing coastal monitoring, the coast was divided into seven different coastscapes characteristic of the Arctic, including everything from steep and stable fjords and rocky shores,  unique glacier fronts, to the rapidly-eroding shores made increasingly common by climate change. Within each coastscape, experts developed conceptual models to identify the most important ecosystem components - focusing on coastal biota and the key drivers that determine its abundance and distribution. While all components of the ecosystem are important, the group  reduced the list of biota to be monitored to a set of essential and recommended species. The final list of 17 elements includes six groupings of birds, and spans the range from marine components like plankton and whales to terrestrial herbivores and coastal wetlands communities.

As part of the process to build the Coastal biodiversity plan, the CEMG engaged with Indigenous knowledge holders, scientists, and stakeholders to identify important questions, focal ecosystem components, and environmental characteristics to monitor. The plan lays out parameters to be monitored through scientific approaches (such as nesting timing and reproductive success), while others would need to be monitored and analyzed by traditional knowledge holders (such as taste and animal behavior patterns). Key to implementation will be the inclusion of experts (both IK holders and scientists) at all levels.

The Arctic is facing dramatic change. The overarching forces of climate change combined with a number of other anthropogenic stressors, including increased shipping, persistent organic pollutants, and the possible introduction of invasive species create an uncertain future for this globally-important biodiversity legacy. With this plan, the group hopes to create a sustainable and coordinated long-term monitoring effort that can evaluate the status and trends of Arctic coastal ecosystems in terms of their native species composition and condition, new and invasive species, geographic distributions, thresholds, phenological norms, and key processes and functions. They plan to release the first State of the Arctic Coastal Biodiversity report in 2023 .

The State of the Arctic Terrestrial Biodiversity Report (START) is under preparation and is expected to be ready by the end of 2019.  A special journal issue of Ambio - a Journal of the Human Environment is dedicated to this topic. The journal will be published January 2020, today 5 out of 14 articles have been accepted and the first articles are starting to appear online. The remaining scientific articles are all in the final stage.
Online articles and where to access them:
* The Status and trends of terrestrial arthropod abundance and diversity in the North Atlantic region of the Arctic. A Springer Sharedit initiative link: https://rdcu.be/brsLe.

There was a writing workshop in Uppsala 26th - 28th of February where the attendees focused on the four thematic groups that give basis for the report, i.e. vegetation, arthropods, birds and mammals. The next annual TSG meeting is planned in Uppsala 13th -14th of May, where the group will work on how to finalize the START report.

What Comes Next? MARINE Group Revisits Impact Scenarios, Outcomes

The State of the State of the Arctic Marine Biodiversity Report (SAMBR) , completed in 2017, was the first ecosystem-focused synthesis report of the CBMP. So what comes next? Work has been underway at the national and circumpolar levels to further disseminate the report's conclusion (including translation of the summary report into Inuktitut and Greenlandic), understand how the information is being used by Arctic states and others, and prioritizing steps to act on the SAMBR advice for monitoring (including a survey and upcoming meeting for U.S. marine biodiversity monitoring players to develop). CBMP Marine is also actively exploring opportunities to collaborate with other Arctic Council workgroups focused on the marine environment such as AMAP and PAME.

A fall 2019 scoping workshop is being planned to bring these efforts together and plan the next four years of CBMP Marine activity. This will include revisiting the impact scenarios and associated stressors and drivers in the 2011 monitoring plan, seeking feedback on how biodiversity information is compiled and presented from those who use such information, and developing next steps for collaboration within the Arctic Council family and beyond.

Using remote sensing for biodiversity monitoring

CAFF, through the CBMP, is creating a framework to harness remote sensing potential for use in Arctic biodiversity monitoring and assessment activities and to produce a series of satellite-based remote sensing products focusing on the circumpolar Arctic.  https://caff.is/indices-and-indicators/land-cover-change-index

MODIS satellite products of relevance to Arctic processes are being converted to a more Arctic-friendly projection. Phase 1, released in 2015, contained products focused on a series of indicators from land cover change to marine productivity. Phase 2, building upon phase 1, is delivering a set of remote sensing-based physical and ecological in 1. A set of remote sensing-based physical and ecological parameters in both the marine and terrestrial pan-Arctic environments with data stretching from 2001-2017. These data will soon be available on the ABDS.

Message from the CBMP Co-Chair
Dear Friends,

Last fall's Arctic Biodiversity Congress in Rovaniemi, Finland included multiple sessions on the activities of the Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program (CBMP) and afforded the opportunity for sharing information and ideas with colleagues from around the Arctic and the world. Reflecting on how much CBMP has grown since the first  Congress in 2014 made clear how much we have accomplished in building a robust "network of networks" of more than 150 experts in academia, organizations, and agencies. At the same time, this is not a group that rests on past achievements, but shares a sense or urgency to always be advancing our important work together.

I am very pleased to share the news that two new CBMP products have been approved - the State of the Arctic Freshwater Biodiversity Report and the Coastal Arctic Biodiversity Monitoring Plan. We are approaching completion of the first synthesis report on terrestrial biodiversity, and continuing to plan next steps for the marine group.  Please read more about all of these items below.

By way of additional update, Sara Longan has taken a new job with the State of Alaska. Unfortunately, this means she will no longer be serving as CBMP Co-chair. I wish her well in this new role and thank her for all her hard work over the last few years.  The United States has emphasized their strong commitment towards the continued success of the CBMP and we look forward to introducing a new U.S. Co-chair soon.  

Tom Christensen
CBMP Co-chair (Kingdom of Denmark)

Do you have a project or publication you'd like to share with the CBMP community in a future newsletter? If so, please send to sara@nukaresearch.com for consideration in our next issue.