In 2015 and 2016, a GEOBON expert group has progressed a first conceptualization of the Species Distribution EBV and charted out next steps to advance its empirical capture and use. Over the same time period GEO BON supported the development of essential variables for invasion monitoring. This effort identified the availability of occurrence data for alien species as central to their successful management and highlighted the importance of advances in sharing and integration of such data. With the Species Populations Working Group, we are now entering a second phase with the larger goal of advancing the operational aspects of the SA EBV and especially the SD EBV, supporting scientists to develop example research and conservation applications, and connecting it to other EBVs, indicators and applications.



Walter Jetz
Yale University
Melodie McGeoch
Monash University

Key Objectives

  • Advance concepts and methodology for a generalizable capture of the distributions and abundances of species in space and time from regional to global scales
  • Advance the distribution and abundance data integration through the development of standards, models, and infrastructure.
  • Document key data and knowledge gaps and develop mechanisms to support the community in mobilizing data to help close them
  • Support the development of example applications of the species population EBV for policy and management across local to national and global scales
Activity 1. Methods, Models, Scale, Uncertainty

A first project area will develop key explorations regarding methodological aspects of the SD EBV and the goal of modeling best-possible realized species distributions. This group will engage closely with the more empirically focused projects II and III (and Activity 5.2) and use their and other datasets to address the following example questions: ● How does scale (spatial grain of sampling or reporting units) affect SD EBV capture and metrics? ● Which modeling approaches are ideal for a given combination of data types, for specific taxa, which are most generally suited overall? ● How can uncertainty be accounted for, propagated into SD EBV predictions? ● How can spatial and environmental data gaps, and their underlying socioeconomic drivers, be better accounted for in species distribution predictions? ● How can biotic information be included in predictions? ● How can available abundance help inform the SD EBV?

Project team: … Antoine Guisan, Yoni Gavish, Petr Keil, Aidin Niamir, Carsten Meyer, Manuela D’Amen, Cory Merow, Jorge Ahumada, Bill Kunin, …
Timeframe: Workshops in 2017, 2018.

Activity 2. Completing, visualizing, and communicating the SD EBV

This project will advance SD EBV capture in practice and develop software and workflows to integrate and communicate the SD EBV. Including taxon experts and data partners across terrestrial, freshwater and marine realms, this project will ● explore the availability of different data types for different regions and taxa, ● quantify and visualize data gaps, ● explore the aggregation of SD EBV to other compound change metrics (e.g. temporal changes in assemblage attributes such as species richness), ● advance infrastructure addressing global, integrated species distributions to demonstrate the development and communication of the SD EBV in practice, ● and develop effective visualizations for communicating SD EBV trends.

Project team: … Carsten Meyer, Ingolf Kuhn, Walter Jetz, Simon Ferrier, Rob Guralnick, …
Timeframe: Workshops in 2017, 2018.

Activity 3. Example implementations and use cases

This project will develop example applications and uses cases of the SD EBV. While they efforts envision here will often address a specific question or hypotheses, the specific applications are not of the overarching nature as the strategic applications listed below. But some of them may well grow into that stature. The overarching goal of this project is to demonstrate the SD EBV for very specific cases (region-taxon combinations) that are driven by different questions or motivations and additionally vary in data availability, complexity, and realm. We have to date discussed the following examples or comparisons: ● Dedicated example implementations for freshwater, marine, and different terrestrial biomes ● A comparison of SD EBV results across freshwater, marine, and terrestrial for different taxa ● Migrants in all three realms as a particularly interesting test case ● Contrasting SD EBV outcomes for poorly and well-sampled taxa ● Comparing privately vs. publicly held datasets in their SD EBV contributions.

Project team: … Eric Tortorec, Eugenie Regan, Chhaya Chaudhary, Mark Costello, Eren Turak, Sami Domisch, Dirk Schmeller, Haigen Xu, Walter Jetz…
Timeframe: Workshops in 2017, 2018.

SD EBV strategic applications
Alien and invasive species

Figure 2: Implementing the species distribution EBV for application to biological invasions (from WG project and MS in prep.)

The purpose of this strategic application of the SD_EBV is to (i) use alien species as a case to test and advance the conceptual and infrastructural developments underpinning the SD_EBV (as in application 5.1 above), and (ii) to further the goals of the vision for global invasion monitoring (Latombe et al. 2016) by promoting harmonized progress across the key stakeholders.
“Managing biological invasions relies on good global coverage of species distributions. Accurate information on alien species distributions, obtained from international policy and cross-border co-operation, is required to evaluate trans-boundary and trading partnership risks. However, a standardized approach for systematically monitoring alien species and tracking biological invasions is still lacking” (Latombe et al. 2016). The dynamics of species ranges, captured by occurrence data, lie at the heart of understanding and tracking biological invasions. As a result, alien and invasive species present a highly strategic subset of taxa with which to further develop and test the SD EBV (Figure 2).

Activity 4. Implementing essential variables for invasion monitoring in countries

This project will test and further develop the application of essential variables (as outlined in Figure 2), building on the GEO BON-supported work (Latombe et al. 2016) on essential variables for invasion monitoring and focusing on the generation of information to measure change. The project will integrate theory, workflows and user needs, building on user-focused developments under GIASIP, ISSG and GBIF and aligning these with technical, infrastructure and modeling developments supporting the SD EBV.

Project team: Melodie McGeoch, Peter Bellingham, Quentin Groom, John Wilson, Diana Bowler, Livia Schaeffler, Daniel Kissling, Aidin Niamir, Marten Winter, Rob Guralnick, Eric Le Tortorec …
Timeframe: Workshop in 2017 and 2018 (probably in Europe to coincide with other GEO BON activities); publications by 2018/9)

Activity 5. From essential variables to indicators of biological invasion

This project will build on the work of GLoNAF and ISSG/GIASIP (GRIIS) to develop the links between EBVs to deliver indicators of biological invasion for estimating and monitoring invasion-relevant trends. Considering the priority problem of biological invasions, this project will generate indicators, inter alia, from the SD EBV using aliens for the purpose of informing relevant policy.

Project team: … Martin Winter, Melodie McGeoch, Shyama Pagad, Piero Genovesi, Walter Jetz, Ingolf Kuhn …
Timeframe: Some work is underway, two workshops in 2017; publications 2017-2019.

Activity 6. Known-unknowns for alien and invasive species distributions

This project will conduct a gap analysis to quantify the adequacy of occurrence data for alien and invasive species, with the purpose of establishing priorities to improve data quality and outputs for end users.

Project team: Gregory Ruiz, Carsten Meyer, Aidin Niamir, Quentin Groom, GBIF DFFU_IAS Task Group …
Timeframe: Plans underway, conceptual development advanced, workshop in 2017; publications 2017-2019.

Activity 7. SD EBV strategic application 2: Distribution and population declines of rare species

A key innovation envisioned for the remote-sensing supported SD EBV predictions is the cross- and fine-scale capture of potential changes in species distributions over relatively short, e.g. annual time scales. This provides an important complement to expert-based evaluations of changes in species threat status that are temporally more coarsely resolved. In this strategic application we will target a suite of species worldwide that are of particular conservation interest, e.g. due to their rarity, and that offer data that are sufficient, if likely heterogeneous in scale and quality to demonstrate the use of SD EBV approaches (methods, infrastructure, reporting) for model-based monitoring of focal species. We will strategically focus on species or species groups that have already rich data and/or a community of experts that engages as partners. This will generally include select species of rare vertebrates, invertebrates and plants, and specifically existing databases and efforts such as the APES (addressing primates globally) or similar expert groups.

Project team: Walter Jetz, Hjalmar Kuhl, Petr Keil, Jon Paul Rodriguez, Antoine Guisan, …
Timeframe: Plans underway, but further development needed, workshops in 2017, 2018; publications 2018-2019.
Resources: Some base projects to build on, proposals under review, additional grant applications planned

Engaging with countries and BONS
The species populations EBV and its manifold applications and uses critically rely on data, such as primary observations. The usefulness of this data for informing the EBV in turn strongly depends on the nature of the sampling and associated documentation. And all collection of primary data benefits tremendously from visible incentives and appropriate attribution and use. Close and effective two-way communication between potential data providers and the Species Populations EBV Working Group of GEO BON is thus key. For example, insights from SD EBV methods and workflow developments and gap analysis tools will hold an array of important messages to primary data collection efforts about highest (and lowest) value data and help guide the development of their monitoring programs. In turn, prominent attribution of primary data providers in SD EBV reporting will incentives further contributions and benefit overall SD EBV development. Finally, data providers and other stakeholders may directly benefit from SD EBV products which enrich their own data with other information and modeling.

The objective of this activity is to support this important communication and increase both contributions to as well as benefits from the Population EBV work. Planned projects include a study that lays out and demonstrates the many benefits, or ‘business’ case, for collecting and sharing spatial biodiversity data. The group will explore new avenues for incentivizing primary data contributions and highlight examples how health, agriculture, and various industry can benefit from SD and SA EBVs. The activity will also engage directly with select country and the various BONS to advices on contribution to and use of the SD EBV infrastructure and tools and facilitate their engagement in the Species Populations Working Group.

Activity 8. Incentives for sharing species occurrence data

This project aims to explore and provide examples for the different benefits for data holders to share their data. The proposed plan is to write a paper on “Why share species occurrence data?”.

Project team: … Eugenie Regan, Donald Hobern, Carsten Meyer Dirk Schmeller, Haigen Xu, Gary Geller, Hannu Saarenmaa, Rob Guralnick, …
Timeframe: Potentially a workshop in 2017. One paper tentatively planned for 2017.

Data Products

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Documents & Publications

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