Monitoring the highs and lows of UK's species and habitats


JNCC has an extensive programme of biodiversity monitoring and surveillance. Working with partners, the programme aims to provide an overview of how UK species and habitats are fairing, and allows us to investigate causes of change.


As a result of these partnership schemes, JNCC is responsible for the production of eight Official Statistics on UK Biodiversity, including trends for Bats, Butterflies, Seabirds, the Breeding Bird Survey, the Wetland Birds Survey, and mammal trends from the National Gamebag Census, as well as data on the extent and condition of protected sites. Many of these contribute information to the National Statistics UK Biodiversity Indicators. The latest version of the UK Biodiversity Indicators went live in May 2011, and JNCC's monitoring programme has already delivered results that will feed into this year’s Indicator set.  Accessibility and use of results is also improving, with trends being published on species webpages, supported by an interpretation of the changes where these are known.Peacock butterfly © Anna Robinson


The programme is dependent on JNCC’s ability to work with key partners and through them, the many hundreds of volunteers who collect the data. JNCC is working with these partners to develop sampling strategies that are sensitive to changes in the environment and pressures caused by humans - for example climate change and changes in land use. Sampling can also help to evaluate the success of conservation interventions such as agri-environment schemes. Analysis of data from the suite of surveillance schemes provides relevant information for a wide range of policies.  


Trends derived from the Official Statistics also provide a trigger for further research to find out what drives the trend.  For example, analysis of UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme data funded by JNCC (Oliver et al 20101) found that heterogeneous landscapes containing a variety of suitable habitat were associated with more stable population dynamics for many butterfly species. Other research has looked at the impact of climate change on species - see for example the comprehensive summary of potential impacts on seabirds given in the MCCIP Annual Report Card and the MCCIP Ecosystem Linkages Report Card.


The release timetable for all eight Official Statistics is updated on the JNCC website. To find out more about JNCC’s collaborative surveillance work, take a look at our surveillance and monitoring web pages.


Oliver1, T., Roy, D.B., Hill, J.K., Brereton, T & Thomas, C.D. (2010). Heterogenous landscapes promote population stability. Ecology letters, 13: 473-484. doi: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2010.01441.x


Contact File


Deborah Procter

Senior Monitoring Ecologist

Tel: +44 (0) 1733 866809


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