Global biodiversity monitoring

Stony Coral Colony

As the extent of human impacts on global biodiversity becomes clearer, developing a mechanistic understanding of how these impacts manifest as changes in species diversity and abundance is essential.  Information on future and historical trends in biodiversity is critical to developing meaningful policy and effective conservation interventions.

The Institute of Zoology hosts and develops the Living Planet Index, an indicator of trends in global species abundance used to inform international biodiversity targets and as a valuable database of wildlife abundance. Our work is instrumental in the development and production of Red List assessments for a range of species and in the production of the Sampled Approach to the Red List Index. We are developing predictive ecological models to answer key conservation questions about how species may respond to socio-economic scenarios and associated land-use and climate change and to predict what policies are required to achieve biodiversity goals.

We lead on the development of remote sensing approaches to monitor ecosystems, habitats and individual species. We foster new approaches to identify and monitor habitats from space and new techniques using camera-traps to provide multi-species estimates of abundance and behaviour. These are complimented by our work promoting new tools to monitor and understand the global movements of individuals and species alongside their behavioural shifts in relation to environmental variables.

Institute researchers also lead on seminal work exploring historical trends and extirpations from paleo-archaeological data which also provides important insights on recent extinction events.  Our work aims to: 

  • Develop a greater predictive understanding of changes in biodiversity, including the impact of anthropogenic threats on ecosystem function and stability
  • Understand the historical context in which biodiversity change has occurred
  • Generate next-generation indicators to address biodiversity loss at the global scale
NASA blue marble Earth map February, blue marble next generation w/ topography and bathymetry

The Indicators and Assessments (IAU) unit is a joint initiative between the...

Wildlife Comeback in Europe report

Indicators and Assessments - Key Reports and Papers

Butterflies - Kaeng Krachan National Park

The Sampled Red List Index looks at the rate of global biodiversity loss by...

Greenland Shrimp

A project exploring the benthic habitats of the continental shelf of West...

Sunset over the Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary.

The Living Planet Index is a measure of the state of the world’s biological...

Elephants_Living Planet_2016

New data released by WWF and ZSL reveals that urgent action is needed by...

Mnx Shearwaters at sea

ZSL scientists show that remotely sensed wind speed can determine flying...