Monitoring biodiversity and ecosystem change

Monitoring biodiversity and ecosystem change

NINA monitors biodiversity and ecosystem change using innovative and traditional methods, and provides knowledge for more sustainable management of nature.

It is important to monitor the natural environment in order to document how crucial characteristics of nature changes over time, both due to natural and man-made influences. NINA monitors both wildlife and ecosystems and contributes to the knowledge base for more sustainable management of nature.

By nature monitoring we mean repeated observations or measurements of given characteristics of species, habitat types or ecosystems carried out according to specified and standardized methods. Such monitoring can include population size, genetics, life history parameters or condition of management-relevant species. The monitoring may also include various targets for species composition or functions in important or unique ecosystems.

Monitoring a changing environment

Long-term monitoring of the natural environment can give us a better basis for understanding how nature changes over time. The monitoring itself will not be able to reveal the cause of observed changes which may be due to long-term changes in nature, short-term natural disturbances such as storms or fires, or various human activities such as changes in land use, pollution or climate impact. However, monitoring can show which impacts are likely and provide a basis for more detailed studies of the causes of change.

Environmental monitoring in Norway - national monitoring programmes

NINA's researchers are responsible for the academic plan and much of the implementation of monitoring of several important animal populations such as the large carnivores, deer, arctic foxes, seabirds, salmonids and a number of endangered and alien species. NINA's researchers are also responsible for, or participate in, monitoring various habitat types and ecosystems on land and in water. This is partly to follow the development of these ecosystems in general, but also to demonstrate whether management measures, such as the restoration of ecosystems, have the desired effect.

The results from NINA's monitoring activities are included in a number of different research projects in NINA and other institutions, as well as in the knowledge base for the management of species and habitat types. Many of the results are also included in Norway's official reporting on the state of Norwegian nature and biological diversity to international conventions and agreements.

Acoustic monitoring 

Acoustic monitoring is one of many pioneering approaches to monitoring biodiversity. Using sound recordings from ecosystems, we can among other things detect alien or endangered species, describe species phenology, and document changes in ecological status or human impacts on nature.

Acoustic monitoring can be used both on land and in water, and gives us knowledge about nature in a fast and cost-effective way. 

Read more about acoustic monitoring


Environmental DNA is the environmental monitoring equivalent of CSI, or forensic science research, where we look for bits of microscopic DNA in nature to figure out which species live there. A useful tool for biodiversity research and monitoring.

Environmental DNA is a cost-effective and reliable method that makes it possible to find the needle in the haystack with relatively little effort. Early detection of alien species is a prerequisite for being able to put in the right measures.

Frode Fossøy, Senior Research Scientist

Read more about Environmental DNA

Seabird monitoring 

SEAPOP is a long-term monitoring and mapping programme for Norwegian seabirds that was established in 2005. 

The Atlantic puffin study at the Røst archipelago in Norway is one of the key sites in SEAPOP, with a time series that stretches all the way back to 1964.

Sustaining these long-term monitoring programs is crucial. Global monitoring of seabird productivity enables detection of ecosystem change and contributes to understanding climate impacts on marine ecosystems 

Tycho Anker-Nilssen, Senior Research Scientist

Explore the SEAPOP website

Alien invasive species

NINA monitors the spread and establishment of alien invasive species in Norwegian nature. This is done through a unique set-up of targeted field searches, large-scale trapping, environmental DNA and metabarcoding.

Read more about our monitoring of alien species


Kristin Thorsrud Teien
Research Director Oslo

Ingebrigt Uglem
Research Director Salmonid fishes

Signe Nybø
Research Director Terrestrisk naturmangfold


Lice traps on the Hardanger coast

Lice traps on the Hardanger coast

Researchers at NINA and NTNU have developed a new method for monitoring salmon lice larvae along the coast

Aliens in the Arctic

Aliens in the Arctic

Scientists have developed a new method to map and monitor alien species in the polar regions.

Seabirds ring the alarm on ocean warming

Seabirds ring the alarm on ocean warming

Long-term monitoring of the seabirds' breeding success contributes to increased understanding of the effects of climate change on ecosystems.

DNA-monitoring improves knowledge on large carnivores

DNA-monitoring improves knowledge on large carnivores

For more than 20 years researchers have used DNA to gain more knowledge on large carnivores in Norway.


Acoustic monitoring

Sound is revolutionizing the monitoring of biological diversity

Pink salmon monitoring

Monitoring the distribution of pink salmon in Norway


Mapping and monitoring seabirds in Norway


Tracking seabirds using light-logging technology

Wild boar monitoring

Systematic camera surveillance and DNA analysis

Environmental DNA

A useful tool for biodiversity research and monitoring

Alien species

Alien hitchhikers with imported plants