The Urban Biodiversity Inventory Framework (UBIF) and associated online tool (at http://ubif.us) is a flexible yet robust framework designed to provide cities with appropriate guidance to successfully record, analyze and assess biodiversity information in urban areas. Cities are increasingly recognized as important locations for local biodiversity, endangered species and/or for providing stopover sites for migratory species. As human populations grow and available habitat areas shrink, the need to track and maintain urban biodiversity becomes increasingly important. By providing a way to accurately and consistently assess biodiversity resources and track changes over time the UBIF can assist cities in making appropriate management decisions to protect this critical asset. This project was initiated by five partner cities (St. Louis MO, San Francisco CA, Portland OR, Pittsburgh PA and Philadelphia PA), active in the Urban Sustainability Directors Network. These cities selected Samara Group LLC to develop the framework.
The UBIF assists cities by providing a record of biodiversity information to support proactive efforts to maintain and enhance biodiversity as well as the ability to identify the need for response when species are declining. The Framework provides specific methodology for collecting and tracking urban biodiversity, but is also flexible enough to be used in any city in the country. We accomplished this by describing specific approaches for selecting surrogate species and monitoring sites.
Multiple methodologies (Tracks) are provided that can be used to monitor and assess biodiversity in cities. The Tracks require differing levels of resources to accomplish, and can be used individually or simultaneously. Track 1 describes a record of opportunistic species data that can be collected through work by partners conducting research in the city and incorporated data from sources such as iNaturalist or eBird. Track 2 uses presence/absence monitoring of surrogate species in city and reference sites while Track 3 uses relative abundance. Data is also collected to describe available and protected habitat areas within the city.
By applying the UBIF methodology, cities can monitor the response to actions designed to enhance biodiversity, such as restoration activities. The UBIF structure also allows cities to record changes in biodiversity for a specific species, taxa group, or for multiple taxa in a specific habitat of interest. This flexibility provides information at different levels of organization and can also be used to generate a “report card” or summary score, aiding in communicating of biological information to diverse audiences.