Konstantina Spiliopoulou

I have a wide interest in conservation, macroecology and biogeography. I am more interested on the practical side of conservation, either on conducting research that can have direct impact on conservation actions or on the ground in terms of management plans. In the past I have worked on biogeographical patterns of biodiversity, creating a framework to assess connectivity and planning conservation strategies. I will be working on project 10 “Tracking changes in protection of Greek Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs)” for the next years. The two main goals of the project are to review Greek KBAs following the new standard of KBA identification and delineation, and to improve the robustness of the protected area coverage of KBAs indicator, an official indicator of progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals and Aichi Targets.

PhD project: Tracking changes in protection of Greek Key Biodiversity Areas

Policy relevance: Protected area coverage of terrestrial and freshwater Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs; Butchart et al. 2012, 2015) has been adopted as an official indicator of progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals and the Aichi Targets (Brooks et al. 2015). This is facilitated by the adoption of the new IUCN Global Standard for the Identification of KBAs, the World Database on KBAs, and the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA). However, a number of issues may have implications for the robustness of the indicator. These include both issues related to KBA identification – for example, coverage of KBA identification across taxonomic groups, ecosystems (e.g. terrestrial vs freshwater; islands vs continental), and KBA criteria; and issues related to protected area documentation – for example, type of protected area.

Key Biodiversity Areas of Greece, from the World Database of KBAs.

Data generation: This project will use Greece as a test case to investigate these issues at the national scale, given that it is among the most biodiverse of European countries. It would require the revision of KBA identification and delineation following the new standard, specifically to incorporate existing data on freshwater KBAs (Darwall et al. 2014) and terrestrial KBAs in Greece, as well as novel (published and unpublished) genetic, taxonomic and biogeographic data (e.g. Geiger et al. 2014), into the KBA dataset in the World Database of KBAs (which currently holds data on >15,500 Key Biodiversity Areas, with the largest proportion of these qualifying for birds); other datasets (e.g. land snails, reptiles and amphibians, mammals, Orthoptera, plants) may also be available. The project may work with members of the KBA Partnership present in Greece, such as the Hellenic Ornithological Society and WWF. Necessary steps would be: 1) desktop review to propose harmonised delineation of freshwater and terrestrial KBAs where these overlap; and to propose delineation for freshwater KBAs where they do not; 2) desktop review to confirm freshwater biodiversity elements in Greek KBAs as meeting the thresholds established in the new standard; 3) a national workshop to validate the above results. Existing protected area documentation for Greece is excellent, with data complete for 100% of the country's 1,256 protected areas, but other projects may be undertaken during the project's time frame to identify "other effective area-based conservation measures" in Greece that could also be considered if work to consolidate and apply a definition of these proceeds fast enough to be applicable here.

Analytical questions: The overall question to be posed by this project would be "What factors influence the indicator of protected area coverage of Key Biodiversity Areas in Greece?". Specific topics to be addressed could include: 1) How do different formulations of the indicator compare and vary over time (for example, via understanding the dynamics of protected areas boundaries and designations that are fundamental to develop robust biodiversity indicators and predict future trends to guide policy decisions)? 2) How does the inclusion of different biodiversity elements (e.g. terrestrial compared to freshwater; continental compared with islands) in the identification of Key Biodiversity Areas affect the indicator? 3) How does the incorporation of existing genetic data affect the indicator? 4) How does the inclusion of different kinds of protected areas (e.g. different management categories; Natura 2000 sites) affect the indicator?

Related references:

  • Brooks et al. (2015) Harnessing biodiversity and conservation knowledge products to track the Aichi Targets and SDGs. Biodiversity, 16, 157–174.
  • Butchart et al. (2012) Protecting important sites for biodiversity contributes to meeting global conservation targets. PLoS ONE, 7, e32529.
  • Butchart et al. (2015) Shortfalls and solutions for meeting national and global conservation area targets. Conservation Letters, 8, 329–337.
  • Darwall et al. (2014) Freshwater Key Biodiversity Areas in the Mediterranean Basin Hotspot: Informing species conservation and development planning in freshwater ecosystems. Cambridge, UK and Malaga, Spain: IUCN.
  • Geiger et al. (2014) Spatial heterogeneity in the Mediterranean Biodiversity Hotspot affects barcoding accuracy of its freshwater fishes. Molecular Ecology Resources 14, 1210–1221.

 Academic Host

Hellenic Centre for Marine Research
Anavyssos, Greece
Maria Stoumboudi


International Union for Conservation of Nature
Cambridge, UK
Will Darwall
Thomas Brooks
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
Athens, Greece
Kostas Triantis
Stuart Butchart Collaborator