CLM Spring issue 2018 - Page 35

The increasing importance of monitoring wildlife responses to habitat management
Figure 2 Three types of contrasts (A – C) for
monitoring creation of new habitat, with three
replicates in each case. Each block represents
a site. Blue = core habitat; grey = new habitat.
The core habitat provides a benchmark against
which the effectiveness of the habitat creation
can be assessed. If the goal of habitat creation is
entirely open-ended, reference to core habitat is
less important. Monitoring just A, B or C would be
valuable, but it would be even better to monitor A
& B or A & C as this would additionally give insights
into the consequences of connectivity and isolation.
Similar designs could be developed to account for
the complexity of the matrix habitat. For instance,
B could involve creating new habitat in a landscape
with many existing potential connecting features.
Figure 3 Simple contrasts of sites selected to
monitor effects of habitat restoration. A is a
study of the effects of restoring habitat in close
proximity to existing high-quality (i.e. core) habitat.
B examines wildlife trends in isolated sites. In each
case three replicates are shown. The expected
improvement and relative scale of improvement
in wildlife is indicated by arrows. The core
habitat provides a benchmark against which the
effectiveness of the habitat restoration is assessed.
The unrestored habitat provides a control for
judging whether the restoration is making a
difference to wildlife. The ideal would be to include
both control and benchmark habitats. If a choice has
to be made, however, it is probably best to invest
effort in monitoring control habitat.
data that will accrue from the monitoring. Appropriate statistical analysis is important, but a monitoring
study that is well designed at the outset will make
the job of data analysis and interpretation far more
straightforward. It is recommended, however,
that some basic statistical advice is sought on the
numbers of sample locations that may be appropriate when gathering data through point samples,
either for species or for habitat.
tial features in common, though exact matching is
rarely, if ever, possible in the real world.
Diagrammatic examples of site-selection designs
for monitoring wildlife responses to creation of new
habitat are shown in Fig. 2. These designs take into
account the proximity of existing habitat and the
creation of connecting habitat. Fig. 3, on the other
hand, shows designs that focus on habitat restoration. In both instances, it would not be necessary
to implement all the options shown to gather
really worthwhile data. The taxa-specific sampling
approaches would vary. In some cases this might
involve taking many point samples within each
habitat patch (this could be the case for surfaceactive or aquatic invertebrates and higher plants),
whereas extensive transects or even whole-plot
counts might be taken for other species groups (e.g.
adult dragonflies, butterflies and birds). In practice,
it would be necessary to adopt sampling that
allowed for management or restoration that was
implemented at different times in different locations.
In many circumstances it is by no means necessary to sample every year. The intervals between
sampling, however, do need to be determined in
Fixed-plot contrasts
It is suggested that, wherever possible, straightforward contrasts be adopted that allow the effect of a
particular conservation intervention to be assessed.
So far as possible, sites that are being compared
should be similar in habitat type, soil type, elevation and surrounding-landscape composition and
structure, but differ in the attribute of interest. This
could involve contrasting wildlife responses under
different restoration/management treatments, or one
might compare treatment habitat with control or
benchmark habitat. Contrasts are valid only if made
between habitat patches or sites that have substan-
February 2016 British Wildlife 181
BWM27_3 07 monitoring-v2.indd 181
29/01/2016 13:49


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