CAFF 2011: Arctic Species Trend Index: Tracking Trends in Arctic Vertebrate Populations Through Space and Time

ASTI- Arctic Vertebrate Populations

Geographical coverage

Geographical scale of the assessment Regional
Country or countries covered Canada, Denmark, Greenland, Russia, Iceland, Norway, United States, Finland, Faroe Islands, Sweden
Any other necessary information or explanation for identifying the location of the assessment, including site or region name

Conceptual framework, methodology and scope

Assessment objectives

Arctic population trend data were compiled from both the Living Planet database, which contains vertebrate population trend data from across the globe (Loh et al. 2005; Collen et al. 2009,, and the ASTI (Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program 2011), the Arctic component of the LPI. In total, the data set contains 890 population records from 323 Arctic vertebrate species (Table 1). Note that the term ‘population’ is not used here in an ecological sense—it refers to a sub-group of a species for which repeated abundance measurements are available at a specified location. Each population data set included geographical information which was plotted in ArcGIS. For some locations, population time series from more than one species were obtained, resulting in a total of 366 unique locations with wildlife trend data from across the Arctic.

See Page 8 in report

Mandate for the assessment

An assessment conducted by the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF), the biodiversity working group of the Arctic Council and consists of National Representatives assigned by each of the eight Arctic Council Member States, representatives of Indigenous Peoples' organizations that are Permanent Participants to the Council, and Arctic Council observer countries and organizations. The CAFF Working Group operates by the Arctic Council Rules of Procedures.

CAFF serves as a vehicle to cooperate on species and habitat management and utilization, to share information on management techniques and regulatory regimes, and to facilitate more knowledgeable decision-making. It provides a mechanism to develop common responses on issues of importance for the Arctic ecosystem such as development and economic pressures, conservation opportunities and political commitments.

Conceptual framework and/or methodology used for the assessment

URL or copy of conceptual framework developed or adapted

Compared to non-spatial data analysis, spatial statistics are more complex due to the underlying effect of spatial autocorrelation and non-stationarity on the data. Spatial autocorrelation arises from the simple fact that measurements taken at geographically close points are more likely to be similar than those taken from locations further apart (Koenig 1999). Even ignoring external factors, a species’ distribution is always autocorrelated, due to the underlying processes of aggregation and dispersal (Beale et al. 2010). However, extrinsic factors that shape a species’ distribution or population characteristics, such as climate or soil type etc., are also spatially autocorrelated, so that environmental conditions at two adjacent localities are more likely to be alike than those at locations which are further apart (Beale et al. 2010). Analyses which ignore spatial autocorrelation thus run the risk of finding significant results between explanatory and response variables when, in reality, these are only a reflection of underlying spatial effects (Type I error). Stationarity assumes that the relationship between the predictor and response variable constant across space, yet stationarity is unlikely to be the norm in spatial contexts (Brunsdon et al. 1996). As a result, simplification of models into a single global regression equation may not do justice to the complex interplay between spatially distributed factors. While dealing with the problems of spatial autocorrelation and stationarity appears to be complex, there are tools incorporating spatial considerations available in ArcGIS thus providing a user friendly

System(s) assessed

  • Polar

Species groups assessed

Mammals, Birds, Fishes

Ecosystem services/functions assessed



Supporting Services/Functions

Cultural Services

Scope of assessment includes

Drivers of change in systems and services


Impacts of change in services on human well-being


Options for responding/interventions to the trends observed


Explicit consideration of the role of biodiversity in the systems and services covered by the assessment


Timing of the assessment

Year assessment started


Year assessment finished


If ongoing, year assessment is anticipated to finish

Periodicity of assessment


If repeated, how frequently

The ASTI reports are updated every other year

Assessment outputs

Communication materials (e.g. brochure, presentations, posters, audio-visual media)

Journal publications

Training materials

Other documents/outputs

Tools and processes

Tools and approaches used in the assessment

  • Geospatial analysis
  • Indicators

Process used for stakeholder engagement in the assessment process and which component

Böhm, M., McRae, L., Deinet, S., Gill, M. & Collen, B. (2012) Tracking Trends in Arctic vertebrate populations through space and time. CAFF Assessment Series No. 8. Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna, Iceland. ISBN: 978-9935-431-14-1

Key stakeholder groups engaged

CAFF, Arctic Council, World Wildlife Fund, The Zoological Society of London (ZSL)

The number of people directly involved in the assessment process


Incorporation of scientific and other types of knowledge

  • Scientific information only
  • Citizen science

Supporting documentation for specific approaches, methodology or criteria developed and/or used to integrate knowledge systems into the assessment

Assessment reports peer reviewed



Accessibility of data used in assessment

Data is being made available on the Arctic Biodiversity Data Service (ABDS.IS)

Policy impact

Impacts the assessment has had on policy and/or decision making, as evidenced through policy references and actions

The report is approved by the Arctic Council

Independent or other review on policy impact of the assessment


Lessons learnt for future assessments from these reviews

Capacity building

Capacity building needs identified during the assessment

Actions taken by the assessment to build capacity

Sharing of data/repatriation of data, Communication and awareness raising

How have gaps in capacity been communicated to the different stakeholders

Knowledge generation

Gaps in knowledge identified from the assessment

How gaps in knowledge have been communicated to the different stakeholders

Additional relevant information