An appraisal of biodiversity monitoring in Turkey within the framework of essential biodiversity variables

Thesis Type: Doctorate

Institution Of The Thesis: Middle East Technical University, Graduate School of Natural and Applied Sciences, Earth System Science, Turkey

Approval Date: 2020

Thesis Language: English

Student: Semiha Demirbaş Çağlayan

Principal Supervisor (For Co-Supervisor Theses): Cemal Can Bilgin

Co-Supervisor: Uğur Siyami Zeydanlı


The survival of species, habitats, ecosystems and thus the welfare of humankind are increasingly under threat due to adverse effects of land use change, overexploitation, pollution, invasive species and climate change. Monitoring biodiversity, understanding environmental responses and analyzing trends enable us to develop urgent actions for combatting biodiversity decline, and to improve policies to cope with these global challenges. Biodiversity observation has a long history. However the dispersed structure of knowledge, uneven distribution of existing data, and the lack of coordination between nations hamper effective harmonization. Furthermore, promising technological improvements and open source resources extend the biodiversity data landscape. Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) which are a set of indicators for the standardized surveillance of biodiversity change, were developed by the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network in 2013 for interoperability of data. In this study, I explored the suitability of EBVs, considering the accumulated academic knowledge and the existing monitoring expertise in Turkey. By assessing the status of biodiversity monitoring, I identify spatial, temporal, taxonomic gaps. Then, a feasibility methodology was developed to prioritize the EBVs. Remote sensing plays a significant role in ecosystem monitoring globally as it is cheap, easily accessible, highly accurate and provides long term data delivery. However the utilization of this technology is not yet sufficient at the national level. I also demonstrate an example of using remotely sensed data in habitat mapping for monitoring purposes. I executed this study in sparse Mediterranean forests where several anthropogenic factors together with fires and droughts are shaping the ecosystem structure and composition.