Taking the pulse of the biosphere – with help of Swedish LifeWatch data

Publicerad: 01 september 2017

In August a keystone paper was published delivering a blueprint for how to calculate Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) for species abundance and distribution on a global scale. The concept presented will directly support global sustainability goals and relies on infrastructures like Swedish LifeWatch.

Swedish LifeWatch participates in an international group of scientists, engineers, and legal experts developing infrastructure and protocols that can be used to measure changes of biodiversity on a regional and global scale. The purpose of the work is to address the research needs and infrastructure services required to calculate Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs).

Like climate variables, EBVs are constructed from various sources of data and are the underlying variables to assess changes in biodiversity through time. They can be used to measure the achievement of targets like the Aichi targets set by the Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD) or the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) identified by the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to protect the world from further loss of biodiversity, support sustainable use of natural resources and enhance benefits from these. As such, EBVs play an important role in policy decisions and are critical to the future work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

The paper covers a broad range of scientific, technical and legal aspects, including basic definitions of the EBV framework, data and tools for building EBV data products, technical and legal requirements of workflows, and metadata and data-sharing standards. The paper represents a community-effort by 36 co-authors, many of them working actively with the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON), an organisation that develops and promotes the EBV concept.

- This paper is a fundamental step forward in operationalizing the EBV concept because it shows how we can implement a workflow-oriented production of EBVs, says Henrique Pereira, GEO BON co-chair and co-author of the study. This will be critical for biodiversity research and for assessing progress towards conservation policy targets and sustainable development goals.


Building essential biodiversity variables (EBVs) of species distribution and abundance at a global scale:


Matthias Obst
Forskare, Svenska LifeWatch
Institutionen för marina vetenskaper, Göteborgs universitet