Ecological Indices

Ecological indices are expressed as numbers or scores that have been derived or transformed from quantitative data. For example, the Trent biotic index of water quality is derived from a mix of the presence or absence of certain indicator species and the number or diversity of taxa (or groups) or organisms present. One of the most well-researched indices is the Common Bird Index that was established in the UK by the British Trust for Ornithology. This index came about because of a desire to monitor the state of bird species and because it was impractical to count every individual.

Some ecological indices have been developed as a way of expressing the conservation needs of a species. For example, some red data books list species in certain categories based on a threat number: the higher the number, the greater the threat. The index in this case is based on the combination of several measurements and on subject assessments of conservation actions.

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