The Arctic Species Trend Index (ASTI) allows scientists to track broad trends in the Arctic's living resources and identify potential causes of those trends, whether they are responses to natural phenomena or human-induced stressors.
The ASTI allows for a composite measure of the overall population trends of 890 populations of 323 species Arctic vertebrates between 1970 and 2007. It can also be organized to display trends based on taxonomy, biome or region.
This information is needed now more than ever. The world requires timely and accurate information on how the Arctic is responding to such pressures as climate change. Until now, this has largely been met with silence. To date, we have mostly relied on climate information and sea ice extent as indicators of how the Arctic is changing. But what of the wildlife that inhabits the Arctic? How are they responding to these pressures?
With the ASTI we can now begin to track how the Arctic's ecosystems and the living resources dependent upon them are responding to change. Thirty-seven percent of all known vertebrate species are found in the ASTI--a significant accomplishment and recognition of the sustained effort and dedication of Arctic researchers and communities who have been tracking wildlife populations over the past four decades and beyond in a remote and challenging environment.
The ASTI uses population monitoring data to track trends in 323 species of marine, terrestrial and freshwater Arctic vertebrate species. This is 37% of all known vertebrate species, a high figure for such an index.
Figure 1. Data coverage by taxonomic class. Black bars represent the proportion of Arctic species for each class for which population data are available.
The ASTI was commissioned and coordinated by CAFF's Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program (CBMP), an international forum that includes scientists and conservation experts from the eight Arctic countries, Indigenous organizations of the Arctic Council, and key global conservation organizations. The development of the index was a collaboration between the CBMP, the Zoological Society of London, UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre and the World Wildlife Fund. Funding for the project was provided by the Government of Canada.
Learn more about how the CBMP develops its indicies and index, and what other indicies and index are in development.