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Making biodiversity measures accessible to non-specialists: An innovative method for rapid assessment of urban biodiversity

Tzoulas, K and James, P (2010) Making biodiversity measures accessible to non-specialists: An innovative method for rapid assessment of urban biodiversity. Urban Ecosystems, 13 (1). pp. 113-127. ISSN 1083-8155

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Abstract

Urban biodiversity studies provide important inputs to studying the interactions between human societies and ecological systems. However, existing urban biodiversity methods are time intensive and/or too complex for the purposes of rapid biodiversity assessment of large urban sites. In this paper the authors present a biodiversity assessment method that is innovative in its approach, is reliable, and from which the data generated can be presented in an understandable way to non-ecologists. This method is based on measuring the land cover of different vegetation structures and the diversity of vascular plants, and then combining these into an overall biodiversity score. The land cover of vegetation structures was recorded by using a checklist in combination with Tandy's Isovist Technique and the Domin cover scale. Vascular plant diversity was recorded at genus level by walking along defined transects within circular sampling areas of sixty five meter radius and using a checklist. A scoring procedure assigns an overall biodiversity score to different combinations of land cover of vegetation structures and vascular plant diversity. This method was tested in three urban locations in the United Kingdom which differed according to size, design and land use. Descriptive statistics of the resulting biodiversity scores differentiated between the biodiversity distribution within each one of the three locations, as well as across them. The main strength of this rapid biodiversity assessment method is its simplicity. Furthermore, by producing accurate results this biodiversity assessment method can be most useful in rapidly identifying areas where more detailed ecological surveys are needed. © Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2009.

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