e-CBMP Newsletter
Winter 2012
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Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program            Volume 5 Issue 1

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In This Issue
Letter From the Chair
CBMP News and Updates
Upcoming CBMP Events
Partner News
Other News

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TopFrom the Chair
Dear Friends,


The recent release of the 2011 Arctic Report Cards highlighted the increasing and accelerating change being experienced in both physical and biological elements of the Arctic. While the world has largely focused, to date, on the reduction of summer sea-ice extent and its implications for marine ecosystems, the recent report cards highlighted the fundamental link between sea-ice extent and duration and conditions (temperature, biomass production, etc.) being experienced in the adjacent tundra ecosystems. With increasing pressures on these tundra ecosystems comes the increasing need for a better understanding of how these systems function and how they are and will respond to these pressures.


This issue of e-CBMP focuses on a number of Arctic terrestrial research and monitoring activities. You will read about new and ongoing programs that advance our understanding of how natural- and human-induced drivers affect these ecosystems now and in the future.


CBMP terrestrial-related networks and experts have been busy this season. The newly established CBMP Terrestrial Monitoring Group (TEMG), co-led by Denmark/Greenland and U.S.A., hosted their inaugural meeting in October and recently published a background paper that outlines their approach to developing an integrated, pan-Arctic terrestrial biodiversity monitoring plan. This "umbrella" plan will serve as a framework to better coordinate existing monitoring programs and deliver more efficient and effective delivery of results. Read more below.


In addition, the CBMP has organized background work and an international meeting of Arctic Protected Areas monitoring experts to discuss formation of a Protected Areas Monitoring Network that can implement, via the existing network of Arctic protected areas, many of the monitoring schemes being identified in the CBMP-Terrestrial, Freshwater and Marine Plans. The Protected Areas group has recently published a background paper highlighting the context for an Arctic Protected Areas Monitoring Scheme (APAMS).


Enjoy the winter 2012 edition of the e-CBMP and watch for our spring issue that will focus on coastal ecosystems.



Mike Gill, 

Chair of the Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program

Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna


newsCBMP News and Updates


Terrestrial Ecosystem Monitoring Background Paper
Terrestrial Expert Monitoring Background Paper

CBMP Terrestrial ─ Current Status


New CBMP/CAFF Report - Background Paper of the Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Programme's Terrestrial Expert Monitoring Group.


The United States and Greenland/Denmark agreed in 2010 to act as lead countries for the initial development of the Terrestrial Expert Monitoring Group (TEMG) of the CBMP. In the summer of 2011, all Arctic Council countries appointed members to the TEMG. The TEMG's purpose is to ensure better coordination between existing terrestrial biodiversity monitoring initiatives and networks and more efficient and effective synthesis and delivery of the results of this monitoring to decision-makers, stakeholders and the general public.


Prior to the first TEMG workshop in Hvalsø, Denmark, the group drafted an Arctic Terrestrial Monitoring background paper. The Terrestrial Expert Monitoring Group´s Background Paper has been finalized and is published under the CAFF Monitoring Series. The Background paper provides an overview of the development of the monitoring and implementation plan and is produced with assistance from a number of experts in various countries.

TEMG group
Members of the Terrestrial Expert Monitoring Group at their October meeting


Two further workshops are planned for 2012 

where experts from each of the Arctic countries will use the background paper and the results from the first workshop in October 2011 to discuss the critical elements of the Arctic Terrestrial Biodiversity Monitoring Plan and reach agreement on the priority parameters, key ecosystem components to monitor and sampling approaches to be employed across Arctic terrestrial ecosystems. The final Arctic Terrestrial Monitoring Plan will be a key element of the CBMP.


The plan will is scheduled to be approved by the CAFF Board prior to the Arctic Ministers meeting in Arctic Council in 2013.


For more information, contact Tom Christensen (DK) and/or John Payne (USA), Co-leads of TEMG 

CBMP Marine ─ Current Status
Cover Shot of CBMP Marine Plan
Arctic Marine Biodiversity Monitoring Plan

The Marine Expert Monitoring Group released the Arctic Marine Biodiversity Monitoring Plan in April 2011. It is the first CBMP expert monitoring group to release their integrated plan.


The Plan integrates existing marine biodiversity monitoring efforts from across the Arctic and represents an agreement between six Arctic coastal nations and many national, regional, Indigenous and academic organizations and agencies.


In September 2011 an implementation workshop established the Marine Steering Group (MSG) and seven Marine Expert Networks to assist in Plan implementation. Implementation of the Plan is now underway with workplans established for the MSG and the Marine Expert Networks.


Arctic Freshwater Biodiversity Monitoring Plan Framework Document Cover
Arctic Freshwater Biodiversity Monitoring Plan Framework Document


CBMP Freshwater ─ Current Status 

In March 2011, the Freshwater Ecosystem Monitoring Group completed its framework document. The latest writing workshop was held in October 2011 in Fredericton, Canada.


Read the new Development of an Arctic Freshwater Biodiversity Monitoring Plan- Framework DocumentA final Arctic Freshwater Monitoring Plan is scheduled for early 2013.



CBMP Arctic Protected Areas

Protected Areas Workshop Report
Protected Areas Workshop Report


In addition to the Expert Monitoring Groups, the CBMP is also exploring, with representatives from various agencies responsible for national and regional Arctic protected area management, the formation of a Protected Areas Monitoring Network. This initiative is intended to enable coordinated reporting of biodiversity in Arctic protected areas using the CBMP monitoring plans as a basis and to provide a circumpolar understanding of change occurring within protected areas around the Arctic region. 


The  Circumpolar Protected Areas Monitoring Workshop Report from the Girdwood, Alaska meeting is now available. 


Arctic Protected Areas Monitoring Background Paper
Arctic Protected Areas Scheme Background Paper

In addition, CBMP experts have developed the new Arctic Protected Areas Monitoring Scheme Background Paper. The paper:

* Summarizes the background and context for a Arctic Protected Areas Monitoring Scheme (APAMS)

* Describes current biodiversity monitoring programs of Arctic Council member states;

* Reviews the role of protected areas in existing biodiversity monitoring programs;

* Identifies differences between European and North American approaches;

* Outlines challenges and opportunities for an Arctic Protected Areas Monitoring Scheme

* Summarizes current and projected issues facing protected areas;

* Proposes an approach for integrating circumpolar protected areas monitoring;

* Outlines factors that should be considered for the development of an Arctic Protected Areas Monitoring Scheme



CBMP and CAFF contribute to the UN CBD SBSTTA

The Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) - of which the CBMP is a cornerstone program - gave a statement and hosted a side event about Arctic biodiversity at the 15th meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity´s (CBD) Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) November 7-11, 2011 in Montreal, Canada, 


Through COP Decision X/13, CAFF was invited to provide a report on Arctic biodiversity to the SBSTTA and provide a statement (available in the Report of Working Group II) during the proceedings. Many interventions were provided by many Arctic and non-Arctic countries, and resulted in a suite of draft recommendations which can be accessed in the SBSTTA 15 in-session documents of Working Group II.)


Read the CAFF Executive Secretary´s guest article to the international biodiversity reporting service "Biodiversity Policy and Practice".



It's Official! CBMP Becomes the Arctic 'BON' of the Global Earth Observation's Biodiversity Observation Network


Over the past three years, the CBMP has been assisting the development of the Global Earth Observation's Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO-BON) initiative. With a very similar organizational structure, the CBMP's work was well aligned to contribute to a broader global effort to harmonize biodiversity observing and reporting. 


Recognizing the progress that the CBMP has made over the past several years at developing and implementing a coordinated biodiversity monitoring and reporting system, the GEO-BON Steering Committee has recently designated the CBMP as the Arctic 'BON' as part of the broader global network. Learn more about GEO-BON.


Development of a Pan-Arctic Monitoring Plan for Polar Bears
Development of a Pan-Arctic Monitoring Plan for Polar Bears

Polar Bear Monitoring Plan


CAFF´s CBMP facilitated the development of a draft Polar Bear Monitoring Plan as a contribution to the 1973 Agreement on Polar Bears. The Polar Bear Specialist Group is set to publish the Plan. Read the Development of a Pan-Arctic Monitoring Plan for Polar Bears that informed the Plan´s development.  


eventsUpcoming CBMP-related Events
  • Freshwater Expert Monitoring Group meeting: January 17-19, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Sea Ice Associated Biodiversity workshop: January 25-26, St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Identifying indicators for monitoring Arctic marine biodiversity in CanadaFebruary 6-8, Winnipeg, Canada. Fisheries and Oceans Canada to host peer review process to develop and recommend a suite of indicators to be used to monitor Arctic biodiversity for CAFF consideration. More information.
  • Senior Arctic Officials meeting: March 27-29, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Terrestrial Expert Monitoring Group meeting: May (TBD), Anchorage, U.S.A.
  • IPY 2012: From Knowledge to Action: April 22-27, Various CBMP presentations and posters (exact dates TBD):
    • CBMP Chairs coordination meeting
    • The Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program: overview
    • Coordinating for Arctic Conservation: CBMP's Distributed Biodiversity Monitoring Data Network launch
    • CBMP Marine Plan: Integrated Monitoring to Strengthen Decision-Making
    • CBMP Marine Expert monitoring and implementation meeting
    • Freshwater Expert Monitoring Group poster 
  • CAFF Board meeting: February 27-29, Salekhard, Russia
  • Arctic Biodiversity Assessment author workshop: April 21-22, Montreal, Canada
  • Arctic Biodiversity Assessment policy development workshop: May (TBD), Sweden 
partnerPartner News


International Arctic Vegetation Database: CAFF Flora Expert Group 


IAVD Concept Paper cover
IAVD Concept Paper

An International Arctic Vegetation Database (IAVD) is needed for Arctic vegetation research, nature conservation, education, policy making and as a foundation for panarctic biodiversity studies. A new CAFF Strategy Series Report: An International Arctic Vegetation Database, a foundation for pan-arctic biodiversity studies presents a conceptual framework for the database. 


The IAVD will be based on the recently completed CAFF-sponsored Pan-arctic Flora of vascular plants, the CAFF lichen list and a new species list for arctic mosses. The database and its products will be available on the Internet through the CBMP Data Portal.

Oxyria digyna, Ina Timing
Oxyria digyna, Photo: Ina Timing


Analysis of this database will produce 

  • lists of Arctic plant communities, 
  • maps of species distribution, and 
  • detect data gaps. 

A project of the CAFF Flora Group, the IAVD will help CAFF address its mandate to promote and disseminate information on biodiversity. Additional motivations for the IAVD include the need to harmonize North American and European approaches to vegetation classification, and for archiving legacy vegetation data sets that are in danger of being lost. 


The project will be launched at a workshop tentatively planned for May 2012 in Roskilde, Denmark, where the participants will review the status of Arctic vegetation data in each Arctic country and further develop strategies for funding and completing the project. Members of the project are now soliciting funds from international agencies. 


Read the concept paper An International Arctic Vegetation Database .


For more information contact: D.A. Walker  or M.K. Raynolds  



CARMA´s Climate Database Updated with 2010 Data

caribou feeding
Caribou, Photo: USFWS

The CircumArctic Rangifer Monitoring and Assessment (CARMA) Network has added 2010 data to its extensive climate database. The database covers 1979-2010 and is derived from NASA’s Modern Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) dataset.


For 22 herds of migratory tundra Rangifer, CARMA generated seasonal distributions (calving, summer, fall, winter, spring) and downloaded all climate variables that have relevance to Rangifer ecology. Some of the variables had to be derived from the core MERRA variables. For example, the database accumulates icing, rain-on-snow, and freeze/thaw events, as well as mosquito and Oestrid indices. Because the same climate dataset is available for the entire Arctic, we are able to directly compare habitat conditions for all the herds. The dataset has been distributed to many CARMA collaborators and is being used to compare herds, assess decadal trends, link to global oscillations and examine role of habitat in herd productivity. CARMA plans to continue to annually update the dataset as on-line MERRA data becomes available.


 For more information: Email CARMA 



Trends in Migratory Tundra Caribou and Wild Reindeer- CARMA


Monitoring abundance of migratory tundra caribou and wild reindeer depends on counting caribou from an aircraft or from photos taken from an aircraft flying over post calving aggregations or over the calving ground. Typically, after a survey, results are not available for up to a year. Since 2010, six of 23 herds have been counted with three increases and three declines in the trend of herd sizes. 


In Greenland, the Kangerlussuaq-Sisimiut increased to 98,000 and the Akia-Maniitsoq herd declined to 31,000.  In northern Canada, the Bluenose-East herd increased between 2006 and 2010 to 99,000; the George River Herd sharply declined to 74,000 while the 2011 count of the Leaf River Herd is incomplete although a decline is expected. The Porcupine herd shared between Alaska and Canada has started to recover and had increased to 169,000 based on the 2010 census. 


Other indicators for migratory tundra caribou and wild reindeer are tracking calf survival, sex ratio, pregnancy rates, movements, and body condition although the frequency and numbers of indicators vary considerably between herds. 


In summary, since their most recent census, four herds are continuing to increase, two herds are starting to recover from declines, nine herds are declining and no trend was detected for five herds.


Reindeer Kautokeino Norway, Photo: Lawrence Hislop
Reindeer, Kautokeino, Norway, Photo: Lawrence Hislop
Increasing herds:
  • Teshepuk Lake 2008
  • Porcupine 2010
  • Central Arctic 2008
  • Bluenose East 2010
  • Kangerlussuaq 2010
  • Lena-Olenuk 2009
No trends detected:
  • Leaf 2001
  • Qaminuriaq 2009
  • Cape Bathurst 2009
    Caribou antlers in snow, Photo: USFWS
  • Bluenose West 2009
  • Taimyr 2000
Decreasing herds:Western Arctic 2009
  • Bathurst 2009
  • George 2010
  • Akia 2010
  • Beverly 2010
  • Ahiak 2010
  • S´hampton 2009
  • Yana-Indigirka 2004
  • Chukotka 2009

  For more information: Email CARMA



Arctic Birds Breeding Conditions Survey Update


Red Knot banding
Red Knot banding, Photo: Peter Prokosch

The Arctic Birds Breeding Conditions Survey (ABBCS) is a project run by the International Wader Study Group and it collects data on weather, abundance of rodents and predators, as well as productivity and abundance of shorebirds and other birds of the Arctic. The survey database, housed at the Lomonosov Moscow State University, accumulated information for a period of over two decades, although geographical coverage of the circumpolar region is highly variable between years.


Issue # 12 of the survey bulletin, "Arctic Birds", was recently published to the Arctic Birds website (available in Russian). The collection and editing data on breeding conditions in the 2011 field season is currently on the go.


A potential of ABBCS as an effective analytical tool for explaining flyway-wide trends in bird populations was recently demonstrated in a study by E. Rakhimberdiev with colleagues. A use of continent-wide qualitative ABBCS data on the abundance of the Ruff Philomachus pugnax on the breeding grounds led to a hypothesis of a global population redistribution in this migrant shorebird. This approach is pending testing on other species of Arctic-breeding birds, and cooperation with other networks that monitor Arctic biodiversity can become instrumental for obtaining spatial and temporal resolution required for this kind of assessment.


For more information: Email Mikhail Soloviev


otherOther News


Special Issue of Biodiversity: Call for Papers

Climate Change Impacts on Arctic and Antarctic Biodiversity


The CBMP and the CAFF Secretariat have been asked to serve on a Board of Editors to develop a special issue of the international journal Biodiversity: Journal of Life on Earth, focused on Climate Change Impacts on Arctic and Antarctic Biodiversity. Papers for this issue are currently being solicited:


The rate of increase of atmospheric temperatures in the polar regions is close to twice that of the rest of the planet. The result is an enormous impact on polar biodiversity and the ecosystem services that local communities rely upon. Rapid climate change affecting the polar regions will also have profound ecological consequences for the rest of the planet.  This special issue will consider papers on the following topics:


  • Comparisons between the northern and southern polar regions;
  • Protecting polar habitats in a warming world;
  • Polar resource management and development in a warming world;
  • Impact on northern communities and Indigenous Peoples;
  • Case studies: biodiversity of selected polar organisms;
  • Interconnections between polar regions and other ecosystems;
  • Historical processes that have impacted polar diversity.                   

Related topics and position papers will also be considered. 


Please submit your abstracts (250 words or less) in Times New Roman 12 pt. by 15 January 2012 to the Managing Editor, Stephen Aitken


A special board of editors will review abstracts. Space is limited so only approved abstracts will be asked to proceed to final draft (3000-4000 words plus references and figures) that will be due 02 April 2012. Publication of final papers will be subject to peer review.


This special issue will published in September 2012 both in print and electronic editions and will be available through Taylor and Francis Journals.


Biodiversity is published in partnership with Taylor and Francis Journals. Please visit the Taylor and Francis website for more information on submissions, subscriptions and to purchase individual articles and special issues.