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In This Issue
Washington Workshop a Success
Major Program Areas Take a Leap Forward
CBMP to Host Upcoming Events
A Boost for Biodiversity in Canada's North
Brown Bear Experts Exchange Knowledge in Alaska
National Geographic Breaks New Ground in Wildlife Monitoring
CARMA Marks Another Successful Year
Youth Project Seeks Scientists
UAF Working to Advance Arctic Sustainablity
Red Knot Population in Rapid Decline
French Researchers Follow Ivory Gulls
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  Newsletter of the Circumpolar Biodiversity
Monitoring Program

 Greetings from the Chair
Dear Friends,

At our recent CBMP Partnership Workshop in Washington, DC, Dr. David Carlson, Director of the International Polar Year Office, highlighted the need for an accelerated effort to integrate and coordinate Arctic monitoring efforts in the face of accelerating change in the Arctic.  We have taken this advice to heart and, with the help of many partners, have been actively 'accelerating' the CBMP itself. 

Over the past six months, our program has advanced on a number of key fronts.  Focused fundraising efforts have seen our budget more than double. Our Five Year Implementation Plan and its accompanying program strategies (Indicator, Data Management, Community-based Monitoring and Communications) are now complete. Norway and the United States will be co-leading our Marine Expert Monitoring Group.  The CBMP also convened an international workshop in Washington, DC to advance the program and leverage new partnerships. 

The Washington workshop - along with face-to-face meetings with organizations in North America and Europe - resulted in a number of new strategic partnerships for the CBMP. These include the CBMP becoming an affiliate member of the 2010 Biodiversity Indicators Partnership, a global network developing a suite of indicators to assess progress towards the Convention on Biological Diversity's 2010 target.  The CBMP will contribute its Arctic indicators as a regional theme to this partnership. 

The next six months promise to be just as productive as the CBMP transitions from planning to implementation. We expect to make significant progress on some of our key program areas, including the Marine Expert Monitoring Group, web-based data portal pilot project, and biodiversity indices and indicators. We will continue to reach out to new and existing partners with upcoming CBMP workshops in Vancouver, Buenos Aires and Barcelona and by re-launching our website soon with a new look and updated content.

The expansion of the CBMP network and acceleration of the program not only represents the hard work and cooperation of our diversity of partners, but also indicates the growing recognition of the need for increased coordination of Arctic biodiversity monitoring. We look forward to continued collaboration with our network of valued partners and wish all of you a safe and successful summer field season!


Mike Gill
Chair, Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program
 CBMP News & Updates
Washington Workshop a Success

The CBMP Partnership Workshop was held in Washington on March 6-7, 2008 with the goal to "develop a multi-stakeholder consortium with the common objective of advancing our understanding and conservation of the Arctic's biodiversity."

Over 50 participants from a broad cross-section of scientific research, natural resource management, and environmental advocacy around the circumpolar world met for a lively dialogue about the CBMP. The agenda included numerous presentations from the CBMP and its partners, working group sessions, and a closing panel discussion in which the plenary identified next steps and strategic direction for the program. The workshop summary report can be viewed on the CBMP's website at www.cbmp.is

Thanks to the US Fish and Wildlife Service for its sponsorship of the event, the World Wildlife Fund for hosting the venue, and the World Conservation Union for providing logistical support.
Major Program Areas Take a Leap Forward

With Norway and the United States announcing their co-lead of the Marine Expert Monitoring Group, work is set to begin on a background paper in advance of the first planning workship this winter to develop an Integrated Arctic Marine Biodiversity Monitoring Plan.  Efforts are also underway to convene two other Expert Monitoring Groups.

Work is also beginning on the CBMP's Biodiversity Indices and Indicators.  These indices and indicators will be a key contribution to both Phase I of CAFF's Arctic Biodiversity Assessment and the Convention on Biological Diversity's Global Biodiversity Outlook 3.  The CBMP also continues to contribute to the Sustaining Arctic Observing Network process as the biodiversity component of this important initiative.

Our Seabird Information Network pilot is advancing rapidly with new funds secured from Canada, Norway and Finland to further develop this prototype to our web-based data portal. As well, we are seeking funding to establish our Community-based Monitoring Guidance Group. This will mark the first step towards implementation of the CBMP's Community-based Monitoring Strategy.
CBMP to Host Upcoming Events

Together with the Canadian International Polar Year Secretariat and the European Research Area-Canada, the CBMP will be hosting an Arctic Terrestrial/Freshwater Expert Monitoring Group workshop in Vancouver on September 11th and 12th. 

Together with CAFF and IUCN, the CBMP will be hosting a workshop entitled 'Arctic Biodiversity: As the Ice Melts' on October 8th at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Barcelona. The CBMP will also be convening an Arctic Regional Partners workshop on September 26th at the upcoming BirdLife International Conference in Buenos Aires.
 Partner News & Updates
A Boost for Biodiversity in Canada's North

The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) is currently leading two projects aimed at enhancing biodiversity knowledge and reporting capacity in the Canadian North: the NWT Ecosystem Classification Project and State of the Environment Report.  

The NWT Ecosystem Classification Project is compiling, updating, and verifying information for each NWT ecozone using new data and extensive air and ground surveys.  This work will provide an ecologically meaningful classification of NWT ecosystem units based on climate, physiography and vegetation patterns, accelerating our knowledge of the extensive diversity of this immense Northern landscape. 

The ecosystem classification report and GIS shapefiles for the Taiga Plains are complete and available at http://www.enr.gov.nt.ca/index.html Reports for the Taiga Shield and Taiga-Boreal Cordillera will be completed in 2008 and 2009 respectively.  The two remaining ecozones - the Southern Arctic and Northern Arctic - are in preliminary development pending additional funding and partners. Each report and associated sets of maps and photographs will be of interest to all CBMP members.

The GNWT is also preparing its first State of the Environment Report.  The aim of the report is to facilitate the exchange of data and information related to indicators relevant to the NWT and to other jurisdictions in the circumpolar world. In its current task of selecting indicators, the Working Group is factoring in the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, the 2010 Biodiversity Targets, the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment, and other initiatives within Canada such as the Forest Criteria and Indicators program. The Group is also closely tracking the development of the CBMP's indicators. 

For more information contact Bas_Oosenbrug@gov.nt.ca and Bob_Decker@gov.nt.ca (Ecosystem Classification Project) or Suzanne_carriere@gov.nt.ca (State of Environment Report).

carma shot
Brown Bear Experts Exchange Knowledge in Alaska

The Northern Forum Brown Bear Working Group met in Alaska during the first week of August 2007 and offered delegates from Russia, Japan, Sweden and Alaska the opportunity to spend a week touring brown bear habitat in interior Alaska, including Denali National Park and Fairbanks regions.

Local bear research biologists presented workshops on a wide range of topics, including:  assessing population density and trends using DNA analysis of hair samples; techniques for co-existing with bears at remote work sites; and challenges in reducing bear populations to minimize moose and caribou predation. Delegates provided updates on the status of bear populations and management initiatives in their regions.

These workshops and presentations are integral to sharing knowledge about current brown bear population trends across the circumpolar region. Other Working Group initiatives currently underway are the development of a CD-ROM describing the status of brown bear populations and research into the relationship of various populations across the Pacific Rim via DNA sample analysis. The next scheduled meeting of the Working Group is in Fall 2008 in the Neriungi District of the Sakha Republic of Russia.
National Geographic Breaks New Ground in Wildlife Monitoring

National Geographic's Remote Imaging Department is dedicated to developing and deploying technology to explore the natural world and engage in research, education and conservation. Combining scientific inquiry, gripping imagery and National Geographic's groundbreaking filmmaking, Remote Imaging brings an animal's point of view to the scientific community and delivers a conservation message to a worldwide audience.

Remote Imaging's flagship tool is CRITTERCAM, a groundbreaking research package combining animal-borne imaging and data logging capabilities to provide unprecedented insights into the lives of wild animals from their point of view. CRITTERCAM has opened a window into the worlds of over 50 species to date and assisted in the production of numerous scientific publications and documentary films.

A complementary effort is our WILDCAM program - live video from exotic wild places such as Africa, Alaska, and the Canadian Arctic - through the Internet. WILDCAM's web sites include educational content on the locale, researchers, animals, partners, and conservation. Each website also has an active community forum where viewers may share observations, become citizen scientists, and participate in online events such as Question & Answer sessions with experts.

For more information, please contact Torre Stockard, WildCam Program Manager at tstockar@ngs.org
CARMA Marks Another Successful Year

The CircumArctic Rangifer Monitoring and Assessment  (CARMA) Network held their fourth annual meeting on November 27-29, 2007 in Vancouver, Canada. About 60 participants developed a detailed workplan for the network until November 2008. Highlights of the meeting included:
  • Presentation of a "North American Animation", a visual compilation of all satellite movements of caribou herds across North America;
  • Confirmation of the Qamanirjuaq and Southampton herds as CARMA reference herds;
  • Addition of Iceland reindeer and Hardangervidda mountain reindeer from Norway as CARMA reference herds;
  • Presentation of the body condition and demographic protocol manuals and the body condition training video;
  • Identification of data holdings and data gaps of reference herds; and,
  • Presentation of current synthesis and assessment modeling tools.
Top priorities for 2008 will include the recruitment of a data manager, finalization of the CARMA Data Management Structure and Data Sharing Policy, and website updates. The next annual meeting is planned for December 2-4, 2008 in Vancouver.

For more information, please contact Don Russell at don.russell@ec.gc.ca 

carma shot

Youth Ambassadors of the Arctic Project Seeks Scientists

In association with Green Cross International and selected media and sponsors, Sagax is organizing a three-year program of theme-centered expeditions in the Arctic regions for teams of young Arctic Ambassadors. The mission is to connect adolescents with scientific fieldwork occurring in the Canadian Arctic. The scientific projects should fall within one of the five major themes:  climate, mineral and petroleum resources, transportation, culture, and biodiversity.

The program's objective is to prove that young people can commit themselves to peace within and protection of the Arctic. The first mission is scheduled for the summer of 2008, with subsequent missions planned for 2009 and 2010.

For more information, contact Luc Hardy at lh@sagax.com
 Spotlight on Research
University of Alaska Working to Advance Arctic Sustainability

The Arctic is a precious region greatly affected by climate change, human disturbance and natural variation. One of the last true remaining wilderness areas remaining on the planet, the Arctic is under increasing development pressure both in the present and future. A broad public discourse on the protection and management of this unique area is needed.

Researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Institute of Arctic Biology are currenly developing for the first time a MARXAN optimization modelling analysis for the circumpolar Arctic. This Strategic Conservation Planning approach takes into account over 30 circumpolar GIS layers and model predictions for marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Using basic scenarios, the models help to find the best available distribution of protected zones for the Arctic, as well as rank options.

Such tools are only a first step and require further fine-tuning and approval by various governments and stakeholders. The research team's hope is that their work could help provide a practical, science-based tool for finding a sustainable approach to dealing with human resource needs and wilderness for the global village.

For more information, please contact Falk Huettman at the EWHALE lab at fffh@uaf.edu
Red Knot Shorebird Population in Rapid Decline

Guy Morrisson and Ken Ross, both scientists with Environment Canada's National Wildlife Centre, conducted their annual surveys in January of the rufa subspecies of Red Knot that winters in Tierra del Fuego. Results indicate that the already low population has suffered another decline of 15% and is not showing any signs of recovery. The suspected reason:  a die-off of about 1300 knots reported from the beaches of Uruguay during their most recent northward migration.

The rufa population was designated Endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) in April 2007. At the time, winter aerial surveys showed that the population had fallen by almost 70% from over 50,000 in 2000 and previous years to some 17,400 from 2004-2007. The data provided by Guy Morrison and Ken Ross has been instrumetal in providing an accurate picture of the decline. The US Fish and Wildlife Service declined to list the species in 2006.

PBS chronicled the plight of the Red Knot in the February 2008 installment of its Nature series with "Crash: A Tale of Two Species", a documentary tracing the migration of the bird from Tierra del Fuego to the Arctic breeding grounds. Interwoven with the story of the knots are the horseshoe crabs of Delaware Bay, overfished and in decline to the extent that this once fertile staging area can no longer adequately sustain the knots on the final leg of their migratory journey north.

For more information contact guy.morrisson@ec.gc.ca or ken.ross@ec.gc.ca
French Researchers Follow Ivory Gull Migration

The Arctic Ecology Research Group based in France surveyed several Ivory Gull colonies in east and north Greenland in the summer of 2007. Two new colonies were located and several of the fledglings ringed in 2003 controlled in the same or other colonies. Overall, 13 adult birds were fitted with solar and battery-powered satellite transmitters. After less than 6 months of monitoring, these tags have already produced more than 16,000 locations, showing the impressive distances these birds travel (up to 500 km/day).

In addition to describing the migration routes and staging areas of this endangered high Arctic species, the transmitters will provide insight into the link between the Ivory Gull and sea ice and ultimately assess its extinction risk in the current context of global climate change and shrinking summer sea ice extent. The program marks the first time this or any other bird species has been satellite monitored at such high latitude (up to 84 degrees N) and under such extreme climate conditions, particularly in wintertime. The program has been funded mainly by Gore-Tex France and the National Geographic Society.

For more information, please check the website at http://grearctique.free.fr or contact grearctique@free.fr
The Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program (CBMP) is an international network of scientists, government agencies, Indigenous organizations and conservation groups working together to harmonize and integrate efforts to monitor the Arctic's living resources.

The CBMP is a cornerstone program of the Arctic Council's Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) Working Group.
Find out more about our Program at www.cbmp.is