University of Oulu

Hjort, J., Tukiainen, H., Salminen, H., Kemppinen, J., Kiilunen, P., Snåre, H., Alahuhta, J., & Maliniemi, T. (2022). A methodological guide to observe local‐scale geodiversity for biodiversity research and management. Journal of Applied Ecology, 59(7), 1756–1768.

A methodological guide to observe local-scale geodiversity for biodiversity research and management

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Author: Hjort, Jan1; Tukiainen, Helena1; Salminen, Henriikka1;
Organizations: 1Geography Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Finnish Environment Institute, Freshwater Centre, Oulu, Finland
3Department of Biological Sciences, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 4.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-11-02


Current global environmental change calls for comprehensive and complementing approaches for biodiversity conservation. According to recent research, consideration of the diversity of Earth’s abiotic features (i.e. geodiversity) could provide new insights and applications into the investigation and management of biodiversity. However, methods to map and quantify geodiversity at local scale have not been developed although this scale is important for conservation planning. Here, we introduce a field methodology for observing plot-scale geodiversity, pilot the method in an Arctic–alpine tundra environment, provide empirical evidence on the plot-scale biodiversity–geodiversity relationship and give guidance for practitioners on the implementation of the method.

The field method is based on observation of geofeatures, that is, elements of geology, geomorphology and hydrology, from a given area surrounding a location of species observations. As a result, the method provides novel information on the variation of abiotic nature for biodiversity research and management. The method was piloted in northern Norway and Finland by observing geofeatures from 76 sites at three scales (5, 10 and 25 m radii). To explore the relationship between measures of biodiversity and geodiversity, the occurrence of vascular plant species was recorded from 2 m × 2 m plots at the same sites.

According to the results, vascular plant species richness was positively correlated with the richness of geofeatures (Rs = 0.18–0.59). The connection was strongest in habitats characterized by deciduous shrubs. The method has a high potential for observing geofeatures without extensive geological or geomorphological training or field survey experience and could be applied by conservation practitioners.

Synthesis and applications. Consideration of geodiversity in understanding, analysing and conserving biodiversity could facilitate environmental management and ensure the long-term sustainability of ecosystem functions. With the developed method, it is possible to cost-efficiently observe the elements of geodiversity that are useful in ecology and biodiversity conservation. Our approach can be adapted in different ecosystems and biodiversity investigations. The method can be adjusted depending on the abiotic conditions, expertise of the observer(s) and the equipment available.

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Series: Journal of applied ecology
ISSN: 0021-8901
ISSN-E: 1365-2664
ISSN-L: 0021-8901
Volume: 59
Issue: 7
Pages: 1756 - 1768
DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.14183
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1172 Environmental sciences
1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: J.H. received funding from the Academy of Finland project number 315519, T.M., H.T. and J.A. from project number 322652 and HSnåre from project number 331957. T.M. received funding also from Finnish Cultural Foundation. J.K. received funding from the Arctic Interactions at the University of Oulu and Academy of Finland (project number 318930, Profi 4). We thank the students of the “Research in Northern Environment”—course in 2020.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 315519
Detailed Information: 315519 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
322652 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Dataset Reference: Data available via the Dryad Digital Repository (Hjort et al., 2022).
Copyright information: © 2022 The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.