EU-wide monitoring methods and systems of surveillance for species and habitats of Community interest
  A research project funded by the European Union 
  The EuMon integrated Biodiversity Monitoring & Assessment Tool
 BioMAT > Background info > Glossary > Inspect the full glossary
A number of terms used in biodiversity science in general and EuMon and BioMAT in particular may be difficult to understand or may have different meaning depending on user or context. The EuMon biodiversity glossary lists and defines some such terms.

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AlgorithmMethod of solving problems in a logical step-wise procedure.
Amateur expertPerson who, although not formally educated or employed in the natural sciences, has built a comprehensive repertoire of expertise and knowledge as a naturalist
Annex I (Habitats Directive)Annex I of the Habitats Directive lists "natural habitat types of Community interest whose conservation requires the designation of special areas of conservation".
Annex II (Habitats Directive)Annex II of the Habitats Directive lists "animal and plant species of Community interest whose conservation requires the designation of special areas of conservation".
Biodiversity hotspotRegion with a higher number of taxa than average.
Biodiversity indicatorIndicator, which gives information on the state or condition of biodiversity in a region or area, for example the number of different bird species as an indicator for overall biodiversity.
Biogeographical regionGeographical area that is defined by a characteristic set of plant and animal species.
Biogeographical seminarBiogeographical seminars are seminars organized by the European Commission and the European Topic Centre for Nature Protection and Biodiversity for each European biogeographical region where representatives of the region and scientific experts meet to discuss the national implementation status of the Birds and the Habitats Directive. The goal of the seminar is to assess whether each habitat and each species of Annexes I and II that occur in the region are sufficiently represented in the sites of Community importance (SCIs) proposed by the Member States.
BiomeClimatically and geographically defined area of ecologically similar communities of organisms
Birds DirectiveThe Birds Directive (Directive 79/409/EEC on the conservation of wild birds) is a European Union directive adopted in 1979. It was designed to protect European wild bird species. For certain listed species Member States are obliged to designate Special Protection Areas (SPAs), which form part of the Natura 2000 network.
Braun-Blanquet's approachMethod that involves identifying floristically and ecologically homogenous area (sampling plot), identifying all species represented in that area and assigning each a code based on its contribution to the total area
Capture-mark-recaptureCapture-mark-recapture (CMR) is a field method used to estimate population size and population vital rates (i.e., survival, movement, growth). CMR data need to be analysed with CMR statistical models, when the capture efficiency is imperfect, i.e., when the probability to capture an individual present in the population during a given capture session is lower than 1.
Carrying capacityThe number of individuals that can be supported within a population, taking into account food, habitat, water, and other resources available within an environment.
Coherence (monitoring)Coherence can be defined in several ways. Within schemes, coherence can exist between the stated goals and methods used in the monitoring scheme. The main meaning of coherence here is that whether monitoring schemes are convergent enough to allow the drawing of common inferences from them. Coherence among schemes may indicate the level of compatibility between the schemes.
Coherence (networks of protected areas)Coherence in the context of networks of protected areas means "Sufficient representation of habitats / species to ensure favourable conservation status of habitats and species across their whole natural range. 'Sufficient representation' is a function of patch quality, total patch area, patch configuration and landscape permeability"
ComplementarityAn approach of adding sites to a network of protected areas in such a manner that the number of new features is maximized and unnecessary duplication minimized.
Connectivity1. Landscape ecology: a structural characteristic of the landscape, defined by the spatial connectedness of landscape compartments or components. 2. Population ecology: a functional measure, defined by the interaction of an organism with the landscape elements in its environment and depending on its movement ability. 3. Conservation biology: connectivity is important for, e.g. maintaining genetic variability, facilitate (re)colonization of habitat patches, average out effects of a fluctuating environment, facilitate the shift of the distributional range of a species, and by all that to reduce extinction risk of populations. Calabrese and Fagan (2004) partitioned connectivity into three classes: structural, potential, and actual connectivity. Structural connectivity describes only the spatial connectedness of habitats. Potential connectivity takes account of indirect measures of dispersal ability derived from body size or energy budget capacity and spatial relationships. Actual connectivity quantifies the spatial interactions of an individual (depending on its dispersal abilities or probability of movement) with the landscape elements of its habitat.
Conservation priorityIf not all conservation measures can be pursued at the same time, one needs to make decisions on priorities. In the case of species it is assigned according to threat status and national responsibility. Other criteria are sometimes used additionally.
CORINECORINE (Coordination of information on the environment) is a European programme initiated in 1985 by the European Commission. Since 1994, it is part of the European Environment Agency (EEA) work programme. Its purpose is to compile information relating to the environment on priority topics for the European Union (air, water, soil, land cover, coastal erosion, biotopes, etc.).
CORINE land coverThe land cover project is part of the CORINE programme and is intended to provide consistent localized geographical information. Since the mid-1980s satellite pictures of the EU member states are being recorded in a standardized way (Landsat 7) and analysed with respect to land use changes. Special attention is given to land use change in relation to environmental problems.
CorridorA corridor is a linear landscape structure that connects neighbouring habitat patches of the same or similar structure, e.g., a tree line that connects forest patches in an agricultural area. Migration corridors are for example used by big game animals to move between seasonal ranges.
Cost-effectivenessCost effectiveness is measured as the ratio of the level of information obtained by the monitoring scheme and the effort necessary to conduct the scheme.
Detection probabilityThe probability to detect individuals of a certain species (or species of a certain community) during a sampling session.
DispersalThe movement of an organism away from its natal area or breeding place. This movement can be active or passive. For example plant seeds may be passively dispersed by wind or animals. Large animals mostly disperse by active migration. Dispersal depends on various factors, such as the size and movement ability of the organism, its dispersal behaviour, the food availability, and size of the source habitat.
Distribution rangeThe geographical area within which a taxon or group occurs.
EcotoneA transition zone between distinct ecosystems or communities, e.g., riparian or coastal zones at the transition between land and water or forest edges. These transition zones are usually characterized by a high number of species.
EEAThe European Environment Agency (EEA) is an agency of the European Union established to provide scientific information on the environment for people involved in developing, adopting, implementing and evaluating environmental policy, and for the general public (
Effect sizeThe strength of the effect of a explanatory variable on the variations of the dependent variable. It is usually measured by the estimate of the slope of the effect, standardized by the precision of the estimation of the slope. In biological terms, the effect size is the strength of the effect of a variable on the studied biological phenomenon. The effect size for the effect of years on the size of a population is the strength of the temporal trend (or extent of change). For monitoring schemes, the effect size is likely to be influenced by what is considered as an alarming change in the population or distribution of certain species. The reporting guidelines prepared by the Scientific Working Group of the Habitats Committee of DG Environment of the European Commission suggest using the following threshold values:trend in distribution range: 1% annual decline OR 5 % annual decline in favourable reference range.trend in population size: 1% annual decline OR 10% annual decline in favourable reference population OR population structure deviating from normal.
Environmental variablesFactors influencing environmental processes (for example soil type, rainfall, temperature, altitude, etc.)
EUNISThe European Nature Information System (EUNIS) is an online database that provides access to publicly available data on European biodiversity (
Evolutionary significant unit (ESU)A geographically separated, reproductively substantially isolated and genetically differentiated portion of a species that is phenotypically adapted to local conditions and on a different evolutionary trajectory. ESUs do not receive a formal taxonomic designation; however, subspecies often - but not always - are equivalent to ESUs.
Field mappingDetection in the field and delineation of habitat polygons or vegetation communities on maps or aerial photographs.
Flagship speciesA species, which draws public attention, due to its charismatic or sympathetic appearance and which is used to raise public awareness for nature conservation issues. Examples are the giant panda and the polar bear.
Flexibility (reserve site selection)Here flexibility refers to different but equally suitable site combinations, which guarantee the achievement of the respective conservation goal
FragmentPiece of landscape structure or habitat that was formerly part of a larger area but has been disrupted by human or naturally caused landscape change.
Generalist (species)A species that maintains a relatively high population size in different habitat types. Generalists have broader ecological niches (cf. diet, habitat) than specialists.
Grain1. Landscape sciences: the geographical resolution of the study area, meaning the minimum area for which data is available. 2. Population ecology: the way an organism perceives its environment, which depends on the home range of an organism, its body size and the heterogeneity of its habitat. A fine-grained environment contains many heterogeneous patches inside the home range of an individual, whereas a coarse-grained environment contains only one or a few patches (Levins 1968).
Ground truthingValidation of remotely sensed data (i.e. satellite pictures, aerial photography, etc.) with what is measured on the actual spot or location. It is important for assessing the reliability of data derived from remote sensing and is used for calibrating remotely sensed data.
HabitatThe place or type of site where an organism or population naturally occurs
Habitat fragmentationNaturally or human caused disruption of the landscape or habitat of an organism. It implies a loss in the total area of the habitat, an increase in the amount of edge, and an increase in the isolation of habitat fragments.
Habitat modelModel, which describes the habitat requirements of a species based on where it occurs (i.e., feeding habitat, breeding habitat, etc.)
Habitats CommitteeThe Habitats Committee assists the European Commission in the implementation of the Habitats Directive and is responsible for delivering an opinion on the draft list of LIFE-Nature projects to be financed every year.
Habitats DirectiveThe Habitats Directive or "Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora" is a European Union nature directive and was adopted in 1992. It protects more than 1000 animal and plant species and over 200 habitats of European importance.
Habitat typeA habitat type is defined by the biotic (the plant and animal community) and abiotic factors (soil, climate, water availability and quality, and others) operating together at a particular site.
Ideal typeMethodological device in the social sciences. The ideal type is a concentration and abstraction of features present in reality. Social scientists use this device to analyse phenomena that do not fall neatly into rigidly defined categories.
Imperfect detectionImperfect detection means that an individual (or a species) was present, but not detected during the survey, thus being recorded as absent whilst actually being present. This may lead to false conclusions about the status of the population under study.
Indicator speciesSpecies, which delineate certain environmental conditions or features due to their own environmental requirements. For example, species that are extremely sensitive to certain environmental conditions, such as water or air quality, may be used as indicators for the degree of environmental pollution. Biodiversity may be indicated by certain species or species groups, which only occur in species rich habitats. Indicator species may also be used to delineate ecoregions.
IrreplaceabilityThe likelihood that an area will be needed for a network of protected areas to achieve an explicit conservation goal. Irreplaceability is measured as a continuum of values between 1 (the area contains components of the goals that cannot be contributed to the network by other areas) to zero (the area is not needed to contribute components of the goals to the network).
Land coverLand cover includes the entire natural and man-made features at the surface of the earth (i.e., trees, rocks, sand, grass, water, urban areas, etc). Land cover data is collected through the analysis of remote sensing images and by in-situ field surveys.
Landscape matrixThe most extensive and most connected element type present in a landscape upon which patches and corridors occur.
Local associationsAutonomous, non-profit making grass roots organisations formed by volunteers.
MatrixThe area between patches of a particular habitat type that is unsuitable or has very low suitability for a particular species
Matrix permeabilityA species-specific characteristic, which describes the ability of a species to cross a certain matrix structure or landscape component (i.e. forest, arable land, wetland, etc.).
Measurement errorThe difference between the observed or measured value of an object and its real value. This difference may be caused by the measurement method or the observer.
MetapopulationA set of spatially discrete populations of one species, which are interconnected through dispersal of individuals.
MonitoringThe regular or irregular surveillance of species or habitats in a defined area following a standardized protocol.
Monitoring designThe method and sampling strategy of a monitoring scheme.
Monitoring effortThe manpower, time, material, and financial resources employed for a monitoring scheme or program.
Monitoring programA program, under which one or more monitoring schemes are running. For example, the Swiss biodiversity monitoring (BDM) is a monitoring program, which encompasses different schemes for plants and animals.
Monitoring schemeA scheme, which is distinguished from other schemes by the use of different methods and/or the surveying of different species.
MultivoltineAn organism having more than two broods per year.
National Non-governmental OrganisationsIndependent voluntary associations of people within a nation state, acting together for common purposes other than achieving government office or illegal activities. The term may have specific legal definitions in specific countries.
National responsibilityA measure of the international importance of a population for the survival of a species, leading to an estimation of the responsibility of a nation for a certain population on its territory.
Natura 2000The ecological network of protected areas in the European Union. It consists of Special Protection Areas (SPAs) designated under the Birds Directive and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) designated under the Habitats Directive. The Habitats Directive together with the Birds Directive form the legal basis for the creation of the Natura 2000 network.
NaturalnessThe characteristic of an area that depends on the extent of human induced degrading impact on the area and whether habitats, landscapes, and populations of species are in a near-natural state.
Nature reserveA protected area of importance for wildlife, flora, fauna or features of geological interest, which is reserved and managed for conservation
Observer effectThe effect that an observer has on the measure (s)he takes of an object.
Participatory environmental tourismA vacation undertaken by volunteers during which they take part in flora or fauna field research under the supervision of professional scientists. The cost is defrayed by the volunteer.
Participatory Monitoring Group /NetworkA broad term that includes different types of arrangements and involves collaboration between a range of 'nature specialists' both professional and amateur. Although often self-contained, these organisations can be characterised as networks because of the way that information - in the form of raw or processed biological records - circulates internally among individuals and groups as well as being channelled to partner organisations.
PatchA relatively homogeneous area of habitat, which can be distinguished from the neighbouring landscape.
PEENThe Pan European Ecological Network (PEEN) is an initiative under the Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy (PEBLDS), which aims to establish a European-wide network of protected areas. It includes all 56 European countries that are members of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).
PEENHabThe project aimed at developing a methodology to identify spatially all major habitats in Europe to support the Pan-European Ecological Network (PEEN) in developing an indicative map of an ecological network for the whole of Europe.
PhenologyThe science of the appearance of natural phenomena in relation to climate during the annual cycle, e.g., the time frame from the first to the last annual emergence of butterflies, flowers, and leaves.
Population viability analysis (PVA)A method used to estimate the probability of extinction for one or more populations of a species. It is frequently used to determine the probability that a population will go extinct within a given number of years.
PrecisionThe degree of refinement with which an operation is performed or a measurement stated. The precision of an estimate depends on the number of sampling units in space and time. Precision of a measure depends on the number of measures and on the natural variability of the object being measured.
Presence-absence dataData that gives only information on whether a species was found in an area (presence) or not (absence).
Priority sitesAreas, which are at the respective planning level of outstanding importance for the conservation of species or habitat diversity as well as for ecosystem functions.
ProfessionalisationThe process by which organisations once exclusively organised through volunteer labour come to include paid workers with relevant qualifications and training.
RelevéA complete list of all plant species in the vegetation sample plot.
Remote sensingA method of acquiring spectral, spatial, and temporal information about objects, area, or phenomena, without coming into physical contact with the objects, by use of satellite and air photo imagery and detection of the reflected or emitted electro-magnetic radiation from natural sources.
Replicate (spatial/temporal)If two or more samples or measurements are taken at the same sampling site (spatial replicate) or if a sampling site is sampled repeatedly in time (temporal replicate).
RepresentativenessThe nature of providing an unbiased representation. The property of measure taken on a small set of entities (a sample) to provide an unbiased measure of the parameter at the level of the entire set of entities (statistical population). In reserve site selection representativeness aims at the identification of a set of sites that ideally represent the full range of biodiversity or environmental variation. This includes a consideration of composition (habitat-, species-, and genetic diversity), structure (physical – abiotic – environment), and function (ecological and evolutionary processes, e.g., reproduction, recruitment, migration, or interaction between species).
Reserve areaNature reserve
Reserve networkA network of nature protected sites that is functionally and/or structurally interconnected and serves to protect and conserve wild flora and fauna.
Reserve siteNature reserve
Reserve site selectionSelection of possible nature reserve areas with the aim of creating a new or amending an existing reserve network
Reserve site selection algorithmMathematical algorithm, which selects reserve sites for inclusion into a reserve network using predefined characteristics (e.g., inclusion of certain numbers of species, inclusion of priority species, distance between sites, etc.)
ResilienceThe capacity of an ecosystem to tolerate disturbance without collapsing into a qualitatively different state that is controlled by a different set of processes. A resilient ecosystem can withstand shocks and rebuild itself when necessary.
SACSpecial area of conservation (SAC) is a site designated under the EU Habitats Directive and defined in Article 1 of this Directive as "a site of Community importance designated by the Member States through a statutory, administrative and/or contractual act where the necessary conservation measures are applied for the maintenance or restoration, at a favourable conservation status, of the natural habitats and/or the populations of the species for which the site is designated."
SamplingThe process of taking measurements from a subset of a population to make inferences about characteristics of the total population.
Sampling effortThe number of samples taken per area and per time unit.
Serious leisureA systematic pursuit of an amateur, hobbyist, or volunteer activity that participants find so substantial and interesting that, in the typical case, they launch themselves on a career centred on acquiring and expressing lots of special skills, knowledge, and experience.
Sink populationA population where dispersal occurs predominantly in one direction – from outside to inside; the population cannot maintain itself without the immigrants.
Source populationA population where dispersal occurs predominantly in one direction – from inside to outside.
SPASpecial protection areas (SPAs) are areas designated under the EU Birds Directive, which states, that "Member States shall classify in particular the most suitable territories in number and size as special protection areas for the conservation of these species, taking into account their protection requirements in the geographical sea and land area where this Directive applies."
Spatial autocorrelationThe degree of relationship of a variable that exists between two or more spatial sampling points, such that when one changes the other(s) also change.
Spatial interpolationThe procedure of estimating the value of properties at unsampled sites within the area covered by existing observations. For example weather, data are collected at several meteorological stations, but estimates of climate conditions can be provided for the areas between meteorological stations by interpolation.
Spatial scaleThe size of the area to which measurements can be related. The spatial scale depends on the organism or process under observation and on the spatial distribution of sampling sites.
Specialist (species)A species that feeds only on one or very few food sources and/or appears only in one or very few habitats (compare generalist)
Species and habitats of Community interestSpecies and habitats, which are listed in the Annexes of the Habitats and Birds Directive and which are protected in Europe.
Statistical powerThe probability of detecting an effect of a given strength (e.g., temporal trend for the effect of time, a change for the effect of a treatment). Statistical power is a function of measurement precision, intrinsic variation in the variable of interest (e.g., individual variation, temporal variation, spatial variation), and effect size (the strength of the effect that one wishes to detect).
StratificationThe process where an inhomogeneous landscape is divided into relatively homogeneous sub-areas or strata. These strata can then be sampled with different efforts, or different methods, depending on the goals of the monitoring scheme. Strata can be habitats, pollution levels, detection probability levels, etc.
Surrogate speciesSpecies or species groups that are used in conservation as substitutes for larger sets of species, when it is not possible to manage each species of conservation concern separately.
Taxonomical extentNumber of species or groups which are monitored
Threat statusThe threat status is a classification of the extinction risk of a species as given by national and international Red Lists for species and habitats.
Time-effectivenessThe ratio of the level of information obtained by the scheme and the effort necessary to conduct the scheme.
TransectA transect is an imaginary line on the ground along which ecological measurements are taken, such as counts and occurrences of plants, animals, or animal scats.
TrendA trend describes the behaviour of a parameter in time or in space, i.e. systematic temporal or spatial change.
TypicalnessThe characteristics of an area, which depends on the presence of species, habitats, or landscapes that are typical for the region and occur in their natural or near-natural state.
Umbrella speciesA species with large area requirements for which protection of the species offers protection to other species that share the same habitat.
Uncertainty analysisA method to estimate the uncertainty in measurements caused by measurement errors.
ViabilityThe probability that a population survives for a certain time.
Virtual Network OrganisationsA combination of multiple and geographically dispersed parties that by uniting complementary activities and methods endeavour to attain a core objective such as recording field data.
VolunteerA person who undertakes specific tasks within an organisation without receiving remuneration.
VulnerabilityThe degree to which a site, in the absence of action, is at risk of loosing its biodiversity. It is a measure of threat resulting from current and likely future disturbances, such as e.g. ongoing habitat loss but also invasion of alien species.

Additional information
 Contract number: 006463