Monitoring birds/ Photo: Carsten Egevang, Arc-Pic.comIt is important that monitoring programs develop the most effective reporting strategies if they are to inform decision making.

To facilitate effective and consistent reporting, the CBMP has chosen a suite of indices and indicators that provide a comprehensive picture of the state of Arctic biodiversity – from species to habitats to ecosystem processes to ecological services. 

These indices and indicators are developed in a hierarchical manner, allowing users to drill down into the data from the higher-order indices to more detailed indicators. These are being developed through an expert consultation process.

The CBMP developed 22 indicators for the Arctic Biodiversity Trends 2010: Selected Indicators of Change report. Learn more about key indicators and indices that the CBMP has already developed.

CBMP Indices in development


  • Arctic Species Trend Index (ASTI)  –  illustrates broad trends in abundance using population data from diverse taxa across all regions of the Arctic.
  • Arctic Red List Index – illustrates the relative rate at which species in particular groups change in overall threat status (using IUCN Red List categories).
  • Arctic Trophic Level Index– illustrates changes in trophic level balance for freshwater, marine and possibly terrestrial systems. Methodology has been developed for the generation of a Marine Trophic Level Index utilizing existing commercial catch data.
  • Water Quality Index – illustrates broad trends in water quality across the Arctic.
  • Arctic Land Cover Change Index – illustrates changes in land coverage by habitats and at various scales. 
  • Arctic Habitat Fragmentation Index– measures habitat quality by tracking changes in the degree of habitat fragmentation across various regions and habitats.
  • Arctic Human Well-being Index– tracks the integrity of ecosystems and their ability to provide services for local communities.


CBMP Indicators in development (not exclusive)

Monitoring birds/ Carsten Egevang, Arc-Pic.comThe CBMP will report on trends in:

  • Abundance of Key Species– will track changes in the abundance of a number of vertebrate and invertebrate species that are of critical importance to northern communities and/or fulfill key ecosystem functions. This indicator will be developed utilizing existing Arctic monitoring capacity and data.
  • Other Species Parameters– a number of parameters not related to abundance (e.g., productivity) can also provide valuable insight into changes in ecosystems and identify possible drivers of change. These parameters will be developed based on the advice of member monitoring networks.
  • Change in Status of Threatened Species– this indicator will track relative changes in the status of reassessed species.
  • Total Arctic Species Listed at Risk– will track changes in the number of species listed at risk as tracked by the IUCN.
  • Extent of Biomes, Habitats, and Ecosystems – this suite of indicators will track changes in distribution and coverage of major ecosystems and critical habitats in the Arctic.
  • Patch Size Distribution of Habitats – this indicator will track the extent of ecosystem intactness by measuring changes in the patch size distribution of various Arctic and sub-Arctic habitats.
  • Fragmentation of River Systems – this indicator will track changes in the degree to which rivers have been modified by dams, water transfers and/or water withdrawal.
  • Extent of Seafloor Disturbance - this indicator will measure changes in the extent and distribution of bottom trawling in Arctic marine waters.
  • Extent, Frequency, Intensity and Distribution of Natural Disturbances– this indicator will illustrate changes in the extent, frequency and distribution of natural disturbances (e.g., forest fires, insect/disease outbreaks) in various Arctic and sub-Arctic habitats.
  • Phenology– this set of indicators will measure changes in the timing of key ecological events in the Arctic such as first flowering dates, dates of peak primary production and arrival times for migratory species.
  • Decomposition Rates– this indicator will track changes in the decomposition rate in both tundra and boreal forest biomes.
  • Availability of Biodiversity for Traditional Food and Medicine– this indicator will measure changes in the availability of key traditional food and medicine resources for northern communities.
  • Use of Traditional Knowledge in Research, Monitoring and Management– this indicator will illustrate, on a regional basis, the degree to which traditional knowledge is used to influence research, monitoring and management decisions around the Arctic.
  • Incidence of Pathogens and Parasites in Wildlife– this indicator will measure changes in the number of incidents of pathogens and parasites reported in wildlife species where tissue sampling occurs (e.g., barren-ground caribou).
  • Coverage of Protected Areas– this indicator will illustrate trends in the amount and type of protected areas found within the circumpolar Arctic and the extent to which they are representative of the various ecosystems found across the North.


Criteria for indicators and indices

A Strategy for Developing Indices and Indicators- click to downloadLearn more about how indicators and indices in A Strategy for Developing Indices and Indicators to Track Status and Trends in Arctic Biodiversity.

Indicators have been selected because they are:

  • Scientifically valid (i.e., rigorous methodology and the ability to detect change);
  • Easily understandable and therefore, easily communicated;
  • Responsive to change (i.e., key Arctic drivers);
  • Relevant to: 
    • The circumpolar region
    • CAFF’s mandate;
    • Other biodiversity programs (both regional and global);
    • People within the circumpolar region;
    • People outside of the circumpolar region; and;
    • Decision and policy makers
  • Ecologically relevant;
  • Subject to targets and threshold setting;
  • Has long-term commitments to monitor; and;
  • Practical:
    • Cost effective;
    • Reliant on accessible data;
    • Technically feasible to measure; and;
    • Representative of multiple species, ecosystems and/or habitats.

Indices have been selected because they address:

  • Key drivers;
  • All components of biodiversity (genetic, species, and habitat);
  • Marine, coastal, freshwater and terrestrial habitats;
  • All trophic levels;
  • Phenological changes;
  • Species range changes;
  • Vulnerable species and habitats;
  • All available knowledge systems;
  • Community-based monitoring employed;
  • Remote sensing techniques; and;
  • Human elements of Arctic systems.

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