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Backyard Biodiversity Day, 21 June 2002 (website)

The second Backyard Biodiversity Day on 21 June 2002 is being organized by a UK charity, Action for Biology in Education, in partnership with the Chelsea Physic Garden (in London) and with advice and support from a number of UK conservation charities and learned societies.

Currently focusing on UK children aged 9-12, their teachers, parents, grandparents and club leaders, this event aims to raise awareness of, and celebrate the richness and variety of ordinary species of fauna and flora that can be found locally (ie. within 1 mile/1.6 km) of their homes or schools. We are asking children, with help from adults, to spend 15 minutes or so, searching for whatever wildlife they can find, and observing and recording it in various ways according to their abilities and situation.

We are suggesting various activities they can do, from looking carefully and minutely at microhabitats, in order to find all the invertebrates, small plants and visible fungi that they can, to searching macrohabitats for the presence of just one or two specific organisms in an online, national survey. Activities will be posted on the website.

We envisage some groups of children making nature diaries, others recording numbers and distribution, yet others creating drawings, poems or essays. Some contributions will be published on the website, others can contribute to the body of local natural history knowledge. Children's involvement and interest is more important at this age, than asking them for exact identification, though adults can help with this too.

--Allan Randall, Virginia Purchon

Biodiversity Fair

To herald IBOY, the National Botanic Garden of Wales in association with the Carmarthenshire Biodiversity Action Plan Partnership, held a Biodiversity Fair at the Gardens on Saturday 30 September, 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. At the event, the Carmarthenshire Biodiversity Action Plan was launched by Sue Essex AM, Secretary for Environment, Planning and Transport.

There were a range of activities, biodiversity games and story-telling sponsored by the Arts Council, relating the activity to the habitat or species on which it depends; guided walks, demonstrations and exhibitions from people working in ecological and related areas ­ individuals, government agencies and NGO's. Topics covered included apple varieties and grafting; tree seed sourcing and nursery methods; bioluminescence; woods and coppice products and related wildlife; the marine environment; fresh-water invertebrates; meadow communities, clay and clay working; the regeneration of heather moorland; greenwood working, charcoal burning and drawing with charcoal, and species information ­ bats, dormice, fungi ­ and so on!

The aim of the Fair was to raise awareness of biodiversity ­ to increase understanding of and familiarity with the word 'biodiversity' ­ and to celebrate our existing biodiversity engendering a curiosity to find out more about it, and a desire to make the choices necessary to retain it.

The Gardens introduced at the Fair observation projects planned for IBOY. Visitors to the fair were able to register an interest in being involved in projects during the IBOY period. Further information about the National Botanic Garden of Wales can be found at

Read a transcript of the opening speech given by actor Philip Madoc

Biodiversity of Arthropods from the Laurissilva of the Azores (BALA)

The purpose of the current study is to perform a community characterization using standardized sampling methods, obtaining information on the spatial distribution and abundance of rare arthropod endemic species in the Azores (Atlantic Islands). Comparative information on local (Reserves) and regional (Island) species richness could also be obtained as well as a measure of the habitat turnover of species composition (the beta diversity component of species richness).


  • Establish a data-set in Filemaker with the current distribution (local and regional), estimated abundance, habitat occurrence and hosts of the endemic arthropods.
  • Generate distribution maps based on the hotspot theory.
  • Calculate a vulnerability score for each of the Azorean endemic arthropod species (for targeted orders only).
  • Obtain a rank of the 15 Natural Forest Reserves based in several Conservation Indices (see Borges, P. A. V., Serrano, A.R.M. & Quartau, J. A. 2000. Ranking the Azorean Natural Forest Reserves for conservation using their endemic arthropods. Journal of Insect Conservation, 4: 129-147.)
  • Give an integrated picture of distribution patterns in several ecological functional groups in the system under study. The species-range-size distributions for arthropods will be investigated.

Surveys during IBOY have yielded the first standardised list of arthropods for several Azorean protected areas. 93 endemic arthropod species and morphospecies have been recorded, collected by pitfall and canopy beating in 19 Azorean protected areas. This information is valuable for understanding the structure of the forest arthropod communities and for conservation. Articles to report the findings are in preparation.


  • Borges, P.A.V., Serrano, A.R.M. & Amorim, I. (submitted). New species of cave-dwelling beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae: Trechinae) from the Azores). Journal of Natural History.
  • Barreto, S., Borges, P.A.V. & Guo, Q. (submitted). A Typing error in the Tokeshi´s test of bimodality. Ecological Applications
    Borges, P.A.V., Aguiar, C., André, G., Enghoff, E., Gaspar, C., Melo, C., Quartau, J.A., Ribeiro, S.P., Serrano, A.R.M., Vieira, L., Vitorino, A. & Wunderlich, J. (in press). Relação entre o número de espécies e o número de táxones de alto nível para a fauna de artrópodes dos Açores. Martin-Piera, F., J.J. Morrone & A. Melic (Eds.). Hacia un Proyecto CYTED para el Inventario y Estimación dela Diversidad Entomológica en Iberoamérica: PrIBES-200. M3m: Monografias Tercer Milenio, SEA, Zaragoza
  • Ribeiro, S.P., Borges, P.A.V. & Gaspar, C.S. (in press). Ecology and evolution of the arborescent Erica azorica Hochst (Ericaceae). Arquipélago. Agriculture Sciences
  • Ribes, J & Borges, P.A.V., (2001). A new subspecies of Orthotylus junipericola Linnavuori, 1965 (Heteroptera; Miridae) from the Azores. Arquipélago. Life and Marine Sciences 18A: 1-4.
  • Neves, V.C., Fraga, J.C., Schafer, H., Vieira, V., Sousa, A.B. & Borges, P.A.V., (2001). The occurrence of the Monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus L. in the Azores, with a brief review of its biology. Arquipélago. Life and Marine Sciences 18A: 17-24.
  • Borges, P.A.V., Serrano, A.R.M. & Quartau, J.A. (2000). Ranking the Azorean Natural Forest Reserves for conservation using their endemic arthropods. Journal of Insect Conservation, 4: 129-147.

-- Paulo A. V. Borges

FIFI, The International Film Festival on Insects 2001

From the 17th to the 21st of October, 2001 the OPIE LR “Office Pour les Insectes et leur Environnement”, the town of Narbonne and the Regional Nature Park Project of “la Narbonnaise en Méditerranée” will present the fourth International Film Festival on Insects, FIFI 2001.

The aims of the event are:

  • To develop a scientific, naturalist and artistic approach around insects and environment through creativity and culture
  • To promote film creation and broadcasting
  • To implement the knowledge on invertebrate and their habitats with the objective of promoting their protection

It will be held in the south of France, in the historical town of Narbonne, on the seaside of the Mediterranean.

This year, Dr Yves Gonseth, President of Invertebrate experts group of the European Bern Convention will chair the International Jury. Jointly and at the same time, the Agronomic Sciences University in Gembloux, Belgium, will organize its own regional manifestation on insects.

After the first event in 1995, the FIFI received the “European Year of Nature Conservation” label. Every two years, the selection committee chooses the best films from the fifth continents. In 1999, 22,000 visitors participated in the third FIFI on the south of France, in Narbonne. This year, the fourth FIFI received the endorsement of the ECC, Council of Europe Culture Campaign: “Europe, a mutual patrimony."

The 4th FIFI takes a comprehensive and interactive approach encouraging broad participations from groups with diverse points of view. It will include:

  • An international audio-visual competition (documentaries, animation films, etc.) about insects and terrestrial invertebrates
  • Conferences leading to debates on agriculture, biodiversity and nature conservation
  • An organic farmer’s market revealing new environmental friendly produce
  • Art exhibitions and competitions involving a gallery of photographs, sculptures, drawings, and sculptures made of recyclable materials
  • Live shows, short walks, “Insectoïd” carnival parade, and choreographed entertainment (pictures)
  • Field trips led by entomologists and naturalists (picture)

The FIFI is realised with the collaboration and the support of public institutions and private companies.

For more information contact Office of the festival FIFI:
Bureau du Festival FiFi, OPIE LR
Hôtel de ville, Service communication
BP 823, F-11100 Narbonne
Tél. +33 (0) 4 68 90 30 27 ; Fax : +33 (0) 4 68 90 30 27

Links :

Garden BirdWatch (website)

The British Trust for Ornithology and CJ Wild Bird Foods’ Garden BirdWatch is an open-access subscription-funded ecological monitoring survey, collecting data on the wild birds using private gardens across the British Isles. Established in 1995 and operating all year round, Garden BirdWatch is probably the world's largest (in terms of the volume of data collected) 'Citizen Science' project with over 15,000 subscribers. Participants are encouraged and educated to collect and interpret records of common bird species as environmental indicators. Many volunteers have no previous experience of environmental monitoring; participation in Garden BirdWatch is frequently a stepping-stone to wider engagement in biodiversity monitoring issues and activities.

Garden BirdWatch is funded by volunteers' subscriptions and supported by CJ Wildbird Foods Ltd.


-- Andrew Cannon

HBMS: Hungarian Biodiversity Monitoring System (website)

During the IBOY, Hungarian scientists, educators and volunteers are joining forces to monitor Hungarian biodiversity, and to make the information available to a wide variety of stakeholders.

It is increasingly recognized that we are in the midst of a rapid and catastrophic mass extinction that increases the vulnerability of the biosphere. The urgent need for reliable biodiversity data is reflected in several regional and global programs. For example, the Convention on Biological Diversity seeks indicators to detect change in biodiversity, and these must often focus on regional levels to be applicable for decision-making. To fulfill the national obligations undertaken as a Party to the Convention on Biological Diversity biologists and nature conservation experts are joining forces in Hungary to identify the reasons for the decline of Hungarian biodiversity.

During the IBOY, a staff of 12 experts is leading a long-term biodiversity monitoring program, at regional and national levels, within the Hungarian Biodiversity Monitoring System (HBMS). The standardized monitoring protocols were published in 1998, following an extensive development program by the Authority for Nature Conservation of the Ministry for the Environment, during 1995-1997, that involved national workshops, expert groups and the internet. For three years, from 1998-2001, the protocols are being field tested at several locations. External scientists and volunteers assist in this monitoring. The volunteers take education courses to learn the standard data collection methods. At the end of 2001, the revised protocols will be published and distributed to potential participants of the program.

Monitoring protocols have been developed for landscape (habitat mapping), vegetation type, plant species, ground-dwelling arthropods, larger Lepidoptera (butterflies), snails, macroscopic invertebrates of freshwater, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and selected mammals. Biodiversity monitoring is carried out at species, community and landscape scales. A comprehensive habitat classification system for Hungary including natural and degraded habitat types, as well as cultivated land such as wine cellars, serves as a tool for habitat mapping of sampling plots of 25 km2. Species, community and population observations are concentrated within these plots, unless the community can only be found outside the plots.

To date, the results of this on-going monitoring program are published in reports and data tables available only to the Hungarian authorities. The aim is to develop an information system that facilitates the integration, synthesis and interpretation of data. GIS will enable geo-references biological information. Data accessibility will be regulated at three levels:

  • free access to licensed authority personnel
  • conditional access to special data for the scientific community and decision makers
  • free access to the public

-- Andràs Demeter and Katalin Török

National Inventory on Habitat and Taxa (website)

This inventory on the habitat and taxa aims to map the biodiversity of Spain (at a scale of 10 x 10 UTM squares). Presented in six layers on the Banco de Datos de la Naturaleza webpage, the project will study:

  • Freshwater fishes
  • Amphibians and reptiles
  • Breeding birds
  • Terrestrial mammals
  • Threatened vascular plants (an estimated 500 species) and
  • Habitats (vegetation types)

Invertebrates will be added in the future. Each of the ‘layers’ will be published as a book and made available on the Internet. The first inventory, freshwater fishes, has been finished and published. Maps of amphibians and reptiles, breeding birds and terrestrial mammals are well advanced and will be published in 2002. The two remaining layers, flora and vegetation, will be completed in 2003.

Naturalia Hispanica website was formed by the Ministerio de Medio Ambiente of Spain. It is the information system for the Conservation of the Biodiversity and is part of the Interchange Mechanism of Information of the Agreement on Biological Diversity.

--Cosme Morillo

The present state of plant biodiversity of the Danube Inferior Basin

The modifications of natural vegetation in Southeast Romania are very extensive. In order to obtain the most arable land possible most of the forests were cleared. Today, small areas of forests lie in isolated islands. Recently, in the 1970s to the present, dams were constructed for protection against flooding along the Danube and along the lower reaches of the tributaries to the Danube. Due to the dams, an extensive area from Danube Island, Suhaia, Greaca, Calarisi, and Brates is not flooded any more resulting in the natural aquatic catchments being lost. Ialomita and Braila Islands, have been transformed into arable land. The transformation of the land is reflected has modified the natural vegetation of those areas. This project will study the changes in the plant biodiversity in the affected areas.

The study of floristic biodiversity of affected areas in Romania will be accomplished with plant habitat surveys. The surveys emphasize vegetation community structure and will provide a base to compare the previous vegetation with the current vegetation. As a result of these aquatic basin transformations, the aquatic and marsh vegetation that is characteristic of these regions has virtually disappeared. The comparison will show the vegetation's' evolution and what measures should be taken to conserve areas that contain rare and threatened species. The aim of the project is to draw up a list of all the species in the study area, targeting the rare and threatened species that are being lost.

Map of area covered by project

--Aurel Popescu

Spatial diversity of soil biota and mineralization processes in grassland ecosystems

European grasslands are a diverse set of ecosystems that are structured by a variety of factors such as climate, soil nutrient availability, and human impact. Soil communities are subject to ecosystem constraints, but they also impose their own constraints on the ecosystem. It is known that there is high spatial variability in different biotic and abiotic ecosystem components, which are hard to explain satisfactorily. In recent years, researchers have become increasingly interested in the role of biological diversity in ecosystem processes. There are few attempts to quantify spatial variation in factors such as plant species composition, soil chemistry or invertebrate communities. The results of these studies point to the need to investigate how the spatial variation of the habitat links the structure of the communities, soil properties and mineralization processes in geostatistics manner of modeling and methods.

It is possible that accelerated matter mineralization in different locations of the same ecosystem is accompanied by a decrease of communities diversity, changes in trophic structures, diminishing body size of consumers and increasing turnover rate as it was found for stressed ecosystems.

The aim of this project is to evaluate how changes in diversity of communities are associated with changes in mineralization processes and nutrient transfer within a grassland ecosystem. The following variables may be assessed in the Institute of Ecology PAS:

  • Plant species and biomass
  • Epigeic and soil invertebrates (Acarina, Collembola, Diptera larvae, Coleoptera, Nematoda, Enchytraeidae, Lunbricidae, Formicidae, Araneae, Carabidae)
  • Physical and chemical properties of the soil
  • Soil activity indices(enzymatic activity, CO2 diffusion, N mineralization)
  • C, N and other element retention in plant and invertebrate biomass. CO-operation with European scientific center in comparative research, exchange data, expertise and experiences is needed.

The project will provide new scientific information on the degree of spatial heterogeneity and diversity of grassland ecosystem and will develop innovative approaches in understanding the basis of soil community diversity and mineralization processes.

-- Joanna Petal, Grzegorz Makulec

Virtual School of Biodiversity (website)

The Virtual School of Biodiversity is a response to two emerging global trends:

  • Higher education faces new opportunities from the use of new technologies in teaching. Universities worldwide are forming global associations, committed to co-operation in teaching and research that can deliver quality-assured education.
  • Promoting education, public awareness and training in environmental issues can help redress the problem that biodiversity, a vital resource for all humankind, is being destroyed at unprecedented rates.

The Virtual School of Biodiversity seeks to address both trends in a synergistic manner, by developing and delivering, via the World Wide Web, biodiversity- related courseware and teaching resources, and to research the technology and educational benefit of this model of education.

The Virtual School of Biodiversity focuses on developing student-centered, distributed learning resources, covering the broad subject areas of biodiversity and biosystematics. The educational model is of distributed learning via the World Wide Web, with students and teachers at participating institutions making use of distributed resources. The Virtual School of Biodiversity commissions international experts to provide content and resources on a particular topic, which it develops into tutorial-style courseware. These resources are currently used to deliver an undergraduate module in biodiversity, which is jointly taught at the universities of Hong Kong and Nottingham.

The Virtual School of Biodiversity aims to build up its network of participating higher education institutions and to increase its portfolio of quality-assured, biodiversity-related teaching resources. The Virtual School of Biodiversity is keen to offer its resources to developing countries that might otherwise lack access to such resources, and offer these resources to a wider audience beyond higher education.

The Virtual School of Biodiversity is a collaborative partnership in the field of distributed biodiversity education between The University of Hong Kong, The University of Nottingham and The Natural History Museum, London. The project is lead jointly by the Department of Ecology & Biodiversity at The University of Hong Kong and the School of Life and Environmental Sciences at The University of Nottingham.

-- P.M.C. Davies

Volunteer Data Validation Project (VDVP)

The “Volunteer Data Validation Project (VDVP)” is an 18-month project that started in April 2001. The project will:

  • conduct an extensive review of literature concerning the validity of data collected by volunteers.
  • establish an NGO methodology group with experience in using volunteers for data collection, that will be surveyed and help develop transferable guidelines and methodologies surveying NGOs and field researchers about the validity of data collected by volunteers.
  • conduct three field trials that will both provide important biodiversity information and quantitatively assess the validity of data collected by volunteers. The field trials will use innovative methodologies developed by the project’s Scientific Volunteer Validation Committee. They are:
    • Mapping the Marine Biodiversity of British Shores – an existing Earthwatch project led by Drs. Stewart Evans and Judy Foster-Smith, Dove Marine Laboratory, University of Newcastle, UK
    • Mammal Monitoring at Wytham Woods – an existing Earthwatch project led by Drs. David MacDonald and Chris Newman, Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Oxford University
    • A forestry research project, led by Prof. Jeff Burley, Oxford Forestry Institute

In recent years the availability of funding for field research has been steadily reduced and scientists have had to seek alternative sources of support. Such alternative funding often provides the scientists with both financial and human resources. Creating an environment where non-specialist volunteers and scientists can work together for a common purpose, on research projects, is also an effective method of introducing the public to the scientific community and its important role in conserving biodiversity.

An advantage of working with volunteers is that it provides the scientists with a cost-effective method of collecting large datasets within shorter time frames. Potential disadvantages are that data collected by non-specialist volunteers may be scientifically unreliable, and many scientists are put off by what are perceived to be the logistical and methodological challenges of using volunteers. In addition, limited information is readily available regarding the validity of the data collected by volunteers and appropriate methodologies for using them. As a volunteer-based organization Earthwatch is coordinating a major international volunteer data validation project to address these issues.

The results of the project will include:

  • a scientific paper on the validation and validity of volunteer collected data
  • guidelines for scientists on how to design effective biological data collecting projects that involve volunteers

These publications will be distributed to relevant parties, and it is ultimately hoped that the project will help maximize the full potential of non-specialist volunteers in fieldwork.

-- Christina Buesching

Last updated December 4, 2002

IBOY took place during 2001 and 2002 and is now completed. Information on the projects, activities and products that took place during IBOY are available on these pages. Many of the projects are still continuing their research and education activities and links to their homepages can be found on the project pages.

For more information on on-going activities of IBOY's parent organization, DIVERSITAS, see

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