A checklist of attributes for effective monitoring of threatened species and threatened ecosystems

David Lindenmayer, John Woinarski, Sarah Legge, Darren Southwell, Tyrone Lavery, Natasha Robinson, Ben Scheele, Brendan Wintle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Monitoring of threatened species and threatened ecosystems is critical for determining population trends, identifying urgency of management responses, and assessing the efficacy of management interventions. Yet many threatened species and threatened ecosystems are not monitored and for those that are, the quality of the monitoring is often poor. Here we provide a checklist of factors that need to be considered for inclusion in robust monitoring programs for threatened species and threatened ecosystems. These factors can be grouped under four broad themes – the design of monitoring programs, the structure and governance of monitoring programs, data management and reporting, and appropriate funding and legislative support. We briefly discuss key attributes of our checklist under these themes. Key topics in our first theme of the design of monitoring programs include appropriate objective setting, identification of the most appropriate entities to be measured, consistency in methodology and protocols through time, ensuring monitoring is long-term, and embedding monitoring into management. Under our second theme which focuses on the structure and governance of monitoring programs for threatened species and ecosystems, we touch on the importance of adopting monitoring programs that: test the effectiveness of management interventions, produce results that are relevant to management, and engage with (and are accepted by) the community. Under Theme 3, we discuss why data management is critical and highlight that the costs of data curation, analysis and reporting need to be factored into budgets for monitoring programs. This requires that appropriate levels of funding are made available for monitoring programs, beyond just the cost of data collection – a key topic examined in Theme 4. We provide examples, often from Australia, to highlight the importance of each of the four themes. We recognize that these themes and topics in our checklist are often closely inter-related and therefore provide a conceptual model highlighting these linkages. We suggest that our checklist can help identify the parts of existing monitoring programs for threatened species and threatened ecosystems that are adequate for the purpose or may be deficient and need to be improved.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110312
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2020


Cite this