[Taxacom] The Barometer of Life

Donat Agosti agosti at amnh.org
Sun May 30 23:50:13 CDT 2010

Decisions are a different matter. But at least in the fisheres there are
fleets out there to study the fish populations. We do not have these tools
and instruments in place, such as the Biodiversity Monitoring System in
Switzerland (BDM-CH) that within 5 years surveys something like 2,500 plots
and thus can compare the data.

In this system there is a link from the observational data to the
conclusions. And no data has been collected randomly as almost all the data
is that goes into such tools as the Red Lists. This means, that there is no
definition of what the data means, nor does it allow running monitoring
program as is happening in the fisheries.

Even the Convention on Biological Diversity was specific that not all
biodiversity ought be monitored but those bits that are relevant.

What happened in the last twenty years was not the development of strategies
to monitor diversity beyond tiger and elephant, but always tools summarizing
data that in my view are not suitable from a scientific point of view to
make the bold statement being made with it. For a while, these statements
have been fine, but their value diminished as it does not provide the
necessary bases for land use and management.

Biodiversity is just one element that finally leads to policy decisions, and
thus better data is no guarantee for decisions in "our sense". But for me as
a scientist I do have the pretension that I want to have a system that lives
up to basic scientific principles, that is reproducibility and at least
openness to critique, and to use the best technology available.


-----Original Message-----
From: Bob Mesibov [mailto:mesibov at southcom.com.au] 
Sent: Monday, May 31, 2010 8:58 AM
To: Curtis Clark
Cc: Dean Pentcheff; Donat Agosti
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] The Barometer of Life

Hi, guys.

Happy to continue this off-list while 'Objective Synonyms' rages.

A great example I can give you of the disconnect between knowledge and
decision-making is wild fishery management. Decades of research, millions of
research vessel hours, good hard catch data, sophisticated modelling, global
discussions on total allowable catch. With what result? Fishery after
fishery collapsing from overfishing. We *know* we're stuffing the wild
fisheries, we're doing it anyway because fish are food and there are more
and more people wanting them and willing to pay for them.

*Do* read Glovbal Biodiversity Outlook 3. It's scary as hell.

Dr Robert Mesibov
Honorary Research Associate
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, and
School of Zoology, University of Tasmania
Home contact: PO Box 101, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia 7316
03 64371195; 61 3 64371195
Webpage: http://www.qvmag.tas.gov.au/mesibov.html

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