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Species habitat classification for 2007 European common bird indices and indicators

We summarise development of species classification as characteristic for habitat types in Europe. This classification is needed for production of common bird indicators. So far, three versions of European indices and indicators have been produced always with modifications of species classification procedure and criteria. From expert judgement and limited number of species the procedure has developed to selection of species at a level of biogeographical regions in Europe and more than 100 species used for production of indicators. Further development of indicators, especially at a level of regions, is planned.

In the third set of European indices and indicators, ┤2007 update┤, 124 species were classified as ┤common farmland species┤, ┤common forest species┤, or ┤other common species┤, and three main indicators produced (┤common farmland┤, ┤common forest┤, ┤all common species┤). Species classification is based on assessments within biogeographical regions in Europe, an approach described below.
The recommendation that species selection should be tried at the level of bio-geographical regions in Europe comes from PECBMS miniworkshop held in March 2005 in Lednice, Czech Republic. It was felt that this might be more sensitive to local adaptation and may prove much more workable than at the gross continental scale. This would recognise that birds do slightly different things in different places, and better use local expertise in the process of species selection. If species sets could be agreed at this level then they are likely to be better suited to national use in those regions, although they might still be questioned at the national level. Constructing a pan-European index on this basis would be feasible but would require some modification of computational methods.
Procedure initiated in Lednice was approved and developed further at the PECBMS workshop in Prague, Czech Republic, in September 2005. Regional coordinators, who were responsible for production of regional species lists in cooperation with all relevant experts within their regions, were appointed and time schedule approved.
The regions and their coordinators:
Central & East Europe ┤Continental┤
Regional coordinators: Attila D. Sandor (replaced later by Petr Vorisek) & Hans Schmid
West Europe ┤Atlantic┤
Regional coordinator: Henning Heldbjerg
South Europe ┤Mediterranean┤
Regional coordinator: Lorenzo Fornasari
North Europe ┤Boreal┤
Regional coordinator: S÷ren Svensson


Regions:
West Europe, ┤Atlantic┤
Countries: Belgium, Denmark, France Atlantic, West Germany Atlantic, Ireland, Netherlands, UK.
South Europe ┤Mediterranean┤
Countries: France Mediterranean, Italy Mediterranean, Spain, Portugal.
Central and East Europe ┤Continental & Pannonian┤
Countries: Austria, Czech Republic, East Germany, West Germany Continental, France Continental, Hungary, Italy Continental, Poland, Switzerland, potentially Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, (Lithuania).
North Europe ┤Boreal┤
Countries: Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Norway, Sweden.

Criteria used for species selection:

  • Abundant and widespread species to be used preferably. Species with > 50 000 breeding pairs in ┤PECBMS Europe┤ are considered as widespread. However, other species could be added too.

  • Characteristic farmland or forest species, and all other species, i.e. 3 groups of species should be selected.
    Species characteristic for farmland or forest per region should be selected using assessment of predominant regional habitat use - farmland, forest, other - the percentage of the regional population that uses farmland/forest for breeding or feeding (0-25; 25-50; 50-75, >75; situation in 2000). Any links with a driving force should be indicated.


Then, we checked if the species selected are sufficiently abundant in the regions, compared species selection between regions, compiled final species list and circulated it to national coordinators for sight and approval.
Regional coordinators were provided with unified excel tables and instructions how to use them.

More detailed rules were applied when regional species classifications were combined:
Species where data provided by national schemes did not cover more than 50% of PECBMS European population* were excluded (with some minor exceptions), population size estimates published by BirdLife International (┤Birds in Europe 2┤) was used.
A species was classified to selected habitat category if:
all regions agreed (not always four regions, but always at least two regions had to provide their classification), or
one region (minority) classified a species differently than the others.
In some cases a species classification was provided by one region only, but if it was a species concentrated in such region and not occurring elsewhere in Europe, the species regional classification was accepted as European too.
If regional classifications differ completely, a species is considered as ┤other┤.

Final list of species and their classification can be downloaded here.

* PECBMS Europe┤ - countries included in our definition of Europe for assesment of abundant and widespread species. Includes countries which contribute actively by data provision or are supposed to provide data by 2010. These are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.
However, some parts of countries (states) listed above were not used and their population not considered in the assesment. These are: Faroe Islands and Greenland, Svalbard, Azores, Madeira, Canary Islands, Gibraltar.

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