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The Wildlife Picture Index: monitoring top trophic levels


Timothy G. O'Brien, Wildlife Conservation Society, Global Conservation Programs, 2300 Southern Blvd., Bronx, NY 10460, USA.


Although recent biodiversity loss has been compared with cataclysmic mass extinctions, we still possess few indicators that can assess the extent or location of biodiversity loss on a global scale. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has mandated development of indicators that can meet the needs of monitoring biodiversity by 2010. To date, many indicators rely on unwarranted assumptions, secondary data, expert opinion and retrospective time series. We present a new biodiversity indicator, the Wildlife Picture Index (WPI) that targets medium and large-sized terrestrial birds and mammals in forested and savannah ecosystems that. The WPI is a composite indicator based on the geometric mean of relative occupancy estimates derived from camera trap sampling at a landscape scale. It has been designed to meet the needs of a CBD indicator while avoiding many of the pitfalls that characterize some CBD indicators. We present an example using 8 years of camera trap data from Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, Indonesia to show that the WPI is capable of detecting changes in the rate of loss of biodiversity, a key requirement of a CBD indicator. We conclude that the WPI should be effective at monitoring top trophic levels in forest and savannah ecosystems using primary data and can fill the gap in knowledge about trends in tropical biodiversity.