Category Archives: News

Butterfly Monitoring in Europe – how you can help

The European Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (eBMS) was started in 2014 by Butterfly Conservation Europe and the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. In December 2018 the eBMS was supported by a contract from the EU for a new project Assessing ButterfLies in Europe (ABLE).

So far 14 countries (18 partners) have joined and we are supporting the development of new schemes, focussing on countries of the Mediterranean and eastern Europe. Last year with the support of ABLE, 5 countries created their Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (BMS): Italy, Portugal, Austria, Hungary and Cyprus.

The eBMS database collects all the data from the different BMS in Europe and with the ultimate aim is to produce a suite of indicators for butterflies, much as the EBCC has done for birds.

Methods

The basic method in eBMS is to walk standardised butterfly transects once per week during the season during good weather conditions. This gives robust data on how populations are changing. However, walking a transect is quite a commitment, so we have developed a smartphone app so that recorders can conduct a 15 minute count of butterflies anywhere in Europe. The results are entered directly into the eBMS database, and are available to national experts. This is especially useful for monitoring in remote areas or in places where there are few recorders.

 

Map of butterfly monitoring schemes in Europe.

 

How you can help:

  1. Help walk transects in your country. Contact your country co-ordinator by checking the list at https://butterfly-monitoring.net/partners-ebms or, if no scheme exists, contact ebms@ceh.ac.uk
  2. Conduct some 15 minute counts of butterflies. Download the ButterflyCount app (for Apple and Android), register with your name, email address and password, and start counting. https://butterfly-monitoring.net/ebms-app

Via the eBMS website you can find the Transect Manual in different languages, Field Guides for identifying butterflies and more information about the network of eBMS.

Thank you in advance for your help.

Cristina Sevilleja cristina.sevilleja@vlinderstichting.nl

Martin Warren martin.warren@bc-europe.eu

Last Christmas to give a species as a gift and support EBBA2

Our big goal of publishing the EBBA2 book is only one Christmas away – December of 2020. If you wish to support the European Breeding Bird Atlas in its final phase and at the same time give a like minded bird enthusiast a perfect gift for Christmas – now is your chance!

Why support EBBA2?

EBBA2 is the biggest standardised biodiversity data collection on European level, showing current distribution and abundance of all breeding bird species occurring in Europe.

EBBA2 will be an important basis to determine and shape nature conservation priorities on continent wide level.

The Species sponsorship will bring funding needed for completion of the project and it will help to lower the price of the publication and give free copies to national coordinators, which will make it easily available in less wealthy countries in Europe.

Where are we now in our EBBA2 journey? Read more on EBBA2 website.

How can you support EBBA2?

You can support the project via the Species sponsorship scheme. Just choose your favourite species and donate the amount you wish to help us in our final phase of the project.

You can also  visit the web gallery and choose an original painting or fine print made by one of the European illustrators, who decided to sell their works and donate a part of all the sales of their illustrations to support the publication of the EBBA2 book.

Contrasting Common Starling trends across Europe

A recent paper published in Ornis Fennica (Heldbjerg et al. 2019) showed that positive population trends of Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) in Central-East Europe contrast with negative trends in North and West Europe. The study, which included common bird monitoring data from 24 European countries and involved no less than 34 co-authors, provides an example of how useful the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme (PECBMS) and all the included national monitoring schemes within this collaboration are.

The Starling is one of the many numerous and widespread European farmland breeding bird species showing major population declines linked to agricultural intensification in Europe. We used monitoring data collected since 1975 in 24 countries to examine the influence of changing extent of grassland and cattle abundance, wintering provenance and temperature on national breeding population trends of Starlings across Europe.  Positive Starling population trends in Central-East Europe contrast with negative trends in North and West Europe. Based on this indicative approach, we found some support for the importance of cattle stock and no support for grassland, temperature or wintering provenance to explain Starling population trends in Europe.

Such a European-wide analysis may conceal regional differences in responses and suggests that currently accessible national land use data might be insufficient to describe the detailed current changes in animal husbandry and grassland management.  These changes may be responsible for changes in food availability and hence breeding Starling´s abundance and their differences across Europe. Reviewing results from local studies relating Starling population trends to local agricultural change offer contradictory results, suggesting complex interacting processes at work. We therefore recommend combining national datasets on demography, land-use/agricultural practices and from autecological research to better explain the reasons for contrasting Starling trends across Europe.

We hope that this paper will inspire other researchers to perform similar analyses on other species or species groups on European level. The PECBMS time series grows every year and the number of schemes involved is constantly increasing making the data suitable for comparative studies.

Heldbjerg H. et al. 2019: Contrasting population trends of Common Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) across Europe. Ornis Fennica 96 https://www.ornisfennica.org/pdf/latest/19Heldbjerg.pdf

Contact:

Henning Heldbjerg

e-mail: hh@bios.au.dk

Petr Voříšek and EuroBird Portal awarded with the BTO Marsh Award

On Wednesday 23rd October EBCC celebrated an extraordinary success. British Trust for Ornithology has awarded our colleague Petr Voříšek with the Marsh Award #BTOMarshAwards in the category International Ornithology.

The Marsh Award for International Ornithology

Awarded to an individual scientist whose work on the international stage has had significant influence on British ornithology, especially as reflected in the work of BTO scientists and volunteers.

Petr Voříšek receives the BTO Marsh Award for International Ornithology

Petr was nominated for his excellent leadership of the Czech Society of Ornithology, and his extensive collaborative work across Europe as the coordinator of the PanEuropean Common Bird Monitoring Scheme. He has also played an important part in the EBCC’s second European Breeding Bird Atlas.

The Marsh Award for Innovative Ornithology

Celebrates an important contribution which takes forward our understanding of avian ecology or conservation science.

The BTO Marsh Award for Innovative Ornithology went to the EuroBirdPortal team. “The portal, which brings together over 80 institutions in 29 countries, has revolutionised the way we view data”, says BTO.

Gabriel Gargallo, EBP Project Coordinator, receives the BTO Marsh Award, October 23
You may check the medallists here.

New paper shows how bird populations respond to climate warming

Recent research published online on October 9th 2019 in Climate Change examined the strength of the relationship between species-specific regional population changes and climate suitability trends, using 30-year datasets of population change for 525 breeding bird species in Europe and the USA. The data for European species were obtained from PECBMS.

The research was conducted by a team of experts including researchers and national coordinators of generic monitoring schemes from the PECBMS network. They showed a consistent positive relationship between population trend of bird species and climate suitability trends across the two continents.

The main outputs of the research were published by Prof. Richard Gregory in a comprehensible review in a science blog. As one of the most important findings Prof. Gregory recognises the fact, that there was found no evidence that the positive relationship differs between species expected to be negatively and positively impacted across the entire taxonomic group, suggesting that climate change is causing equally strong, quantifiable population increases and declines.

Species’ responses to changing climate also varied with ecological traits, particularly breeding habitat preference and body size; although in the latter case, patterns differed between Europe and the US for reasons that are unclear. Species associated with inland wetlands responded most strongly and consistently to recent climatic change. In Europe, smaller species also appeared to respond more strongly, whilst the relationship with body mass was less clear-cut for North American birds. This indicates that the impact may not always be consistent, even between continents.

Species breeding in the inland wetlands as Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) in Europe responded most strongly and consistently to climatic change, both in the USA and Europe.
Photo by Jan Grünwald

Prof. Gregory concludes: “The long-term consequences of climate warming on bird populations and their ranges remain uncertain and are an urgent priority for research like our own, that combines observational data with statistical modelling in different species groups.”


Read a science blog by Prof Richard Gregory, Head of Species Monitoring and Research, RSPB Centre for Conservation Science and Centre for Biodiversity & Environment Research, University College London.

Read the original article as ‘Online First‘.

Full reference: Mason LR Green RE Howard C Stephens PA Willis SG Aunins A Brotons L Chodkiewicz T Chylareck P Escandell V Foppen RPB Herrando S Husby M Jiguet F Kålås JA Lindstrom A Massimino D Moshøj C Nellis R Paquet J-Y Reif J Sirkiä PM Szép T Tellini Florenzano G Teufelbauer N Trautmann S van Strien A van Turnhout CAM Voříšek P & Gregory RD (2019) Population responses of bird populations to climate change on two continents vary with species’ ecological traits but not with direction of change in climate suitability. Climatic Change. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-019-02549-9.

A new book: A Wild Bird and a Cultured Man

The Common Eider and Homo Sapiens: Fourteen Centuries Together

A popular science book by Alexandra Goryashko

Publication expected in 2019

The preparation of a popular science book on the world-wide history of the relationship between humans and the eiders – A Wild Bird and a Cultured Man (The Common Eider and Homo Sapiens: Fourteen Centuries Together) – for printing is nearing its end.
The author is the biologist and historian of science Alexandra Goryashko. This letter is to inform you about the upcoming publication which will be published in both Russian and English versions.

In five years the author has succeeded in writing a unique book that covers every aspect of the subject, from finding the remains of the eiders at the locations of ancient human settlements and the emergence of the naming of the eider in various languages to works of art dedicated to the eider and legends related to it.
The book describes the development of the scientific concept of the eider from the middle of the 17th century up to the present day, the history and present state of eider farms, the history and current state of eider hunting and the collection of eider eggs, as well as the history and the present state of eider protection laws. The book includes the chapters dedicated to eider biology, the story of the study of eider down properties, and its present-day use. We would like to emphasise that the story of human and eider relationship in Russia, which is but very little known to the world community, makes up a significant part of the book, and will for the first time be made available in English.
Research undertaken by the author encompasses all parts of the world where humans interact with the eiders in one way or another. Over two hundred people from fifteen countries were involved in collecting information and illustrations for the book. The author has studied over four hundred literature and archive sources from the 9th to the 21st century, collected over three hundred archive and modern photographs, and for a number of years has actively participated in field work in eider nesting locations on the Kandalaksha Nature Reserve in Russia and on eider farms in Iceland. A significant number of documents and photographs presented in the book are published for the first time. The book comprises approximately 800 pages.
Scientific editors are Alexander V. Kondratyev (PhD) and Mariya V. Gavrilo (PhD). The consultants are Mikhail V. Kalyakin (Dr. Sc.) and Pavel V. Kvartalnov (PhD). The translation into English was done by Pavel Voytinsky while David Leslie Urion edited the translation.
More information about the book can be found at the website.

The book is published with the informational and financial support of the Russian M.A. Menzbier Society for the Preservation and Study of Birds, Zoological museum of Lomonosov Moscow State University, the Association “Maritime Legacy: Study and Preserve”, the Barents section of the WWF of Russia, the charitable fund “The Centre of Wild Nature Protection”, the Murmansk Regional Public Organisation “the Kola Centre of Wild Nature Preservation” and the joint stock company “Arctic Down Company RU-IS”. In part, the publication is financed by private donors, but we are still actively seeking financial help to publish the book, and would be very grateful if your organisation or any of its members would be willing to kindly assist us. The author will be happy to receive any offers of financial support for this unique, highly informative and interesting book.
The current status: the Russian version (including scientific and literary editing), including the selection of illustrations, and the translation into English, as well as editing, has been completed. Typesetting has begun, with about half of the Russian version done at the moment.

We would be extremely grateful if you could inform us whether you are interested in acquiring the book as it would help us in deciding how many copies of the English version we should print. Please let us know the number of copies you would like to receive by writing to aleksandra.goryashko@gmail.com.

Mikhail Kalyakin

head of the Board of BirdsRussia,
director of Zoological museum of Lomonosov Moscow State University
member of the EBCC Board

New PECBMS website

Since the 19th of September 2018 you can visit the brand new website of the PanEuropean Common Bird Monitoring Scheme here:

www.pecbms.info

It summarises up to date information on European common bird monitoring schemes and presents the last update of the European wild bird indicators and species trends and indeces.

The new presentation of the graphs enables to perform the data for several selected species or indicators in one graph to facilitate the comparison. If you wish to check, how are, for example, the European species of tits doing, just order the table by taxonomy, tick all the tits, choose “All data in one graph” and click on “Show” button. You will see all the six species trends in one graph. Guess, which tit species is doing the best and the worst?

Farther, all our publications can be easily found and downloaded as well as the European species indices and trends till 2015 and the latest European and EU indicators.

We tried to make the website user-friendly, comprehensive and up to date.
However, we are aware that the website needs to be improved continuously.

Please, if you have some comments or questions, do not hesitate to let us know!

Don´t miss any news on bird monitoring in Europe!

Since last autumn we spread a quarterly newsletter which aims to bring the news regarding all EBCC projects – Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring (PECBMS), European Breeding Bird Atlas 2 (EBBA2) and EuroBird Portal (EBP) – to everybody who is interested in bird monitoring in Europe. We wish to stay in touch and communicate together.

Are you the national coordinator of monitoring scheme, do you organise a meeting regarding monitoring methods or you are seeking for volunteer counters for the next breeding season? Please, let us know and tell us about your news!

September issue of the EBCC newsletter has been spread right now. The next issue will be out in the first half of December.

Did you miss some older issues? Check the EBCC e-mail newsletter archive!

You don´t receive the newsletter? Sign up!

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Report on the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme, June 2018

This report summarizes the activities of the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme (PECBMS) between July 2017 and June 2018, mostly under the European Commission grant “Towards new generation of Wild Birds Indicators”.

Publication of new European species trends and common bird indicators
European species population trends and indices have been produced for the time period 1980–2015. A reliable European index was produced for 170 species. In 2017, we have added one new species, Eastern olivaceous warbler Iduna pallida, to the list of European common birds.


In 2017 update the reliable European index was produced for Eastern olivaceous warbler Iduna pallida for the first time. Photo: Radovan Václav

The species indices were used for computation of European wild bird indicators, for the same time period 1980 – 2015. The indicators are computed for Europe and its regions (West, North, Central & East and South Europe), and EU, New and Old EU states for common farmland, common forest, and all common birds. The European species indices and common bird indicators have been published at the website in November 2017. Altogether, 28 countries provided their data for this update.

TRIM in R
The program TRIM, TRends and Indices for Monitoring data, a program used to determine species population trends, was rebuilt by Statistics Netherlands as a package for the freely available and widely used open source program R. RTRIM contains the same methods and models for nature monitoring data as the original versions of TRIM. It can work with the same input data and produces the same output data, but as a package in R it can easily be integrated in other R programming processes. Also, a RTRIM shell documents has been developed by Statistics Netherlands, which makes it easier to process large batches of species with specific model parameters at once.

PECBMS publications
In January we have published a new leaflet called “State of common European breeding birds 2017”. In a concise form it introduces the population trends of 170 common European breeding birds from 28 countries, for the time period 1980–2015. It also shows the three European wild bird indicators for common farmland, common forest and all common species. We chose to highlight the greenfinch on this leaflet as an example of a species which is stable on European scale, but has highly contrasting trends in the European regions. The leaflet is downloadable in PDF via the website and has also been distributed in our network.

An oral presentation was given by Petr Vorisek at the First Russian Ornithological Congress in February 2018, which was followed up by useful discussions on the development of common bird monitoring in Russia.

Use of PECBMS outputs in policy
The 2017 update of the EU indicators has been sent Eurostat in March, to be published on their website. The European and EU indicators until 2015 were also used for the update of the SEBI indicators at the EEA website.

Collection of national species indices
Regular collection of updated national species population trends and indices has started in May 2017, a request for the data until 2016 has been sent to the coordinators of national and sub-national monitoring schemes. We have asked for data on the same 170 common bird species for which we produced a European index in 2017. The next update of European species trends and common bird indicators is planned to be published in the autumn 2018. In addition to the regular request for national species indices, we have asked the national coordinators for an update of site-level data, to be used for research purposes, both internally within PECBMS and in cooperation with external researchers.

Maintain and update network of cooperating organizations and individuals
We maintain an extensive network of cooperating organisations and individuals across Europe. We currently have 158 contacts from 47 countries or territories in our mailing list, including coordinators of national monitoring schemes, EBCC national delegates and BirdLife partner organisations as well as policy people and decision makers.

New website and newsletter
We are preparing a new and improved PECBMS website. The structure and overall layout of the site has been transformed to be more attractive, up to date and user friendly. The new website is scheduled to be online during the summer 2018. Also, we have developed a new electronic newsletter, produced on behalf of the EBCC and informing on related projects EBBA2 and EBP, too.

This new, quarterly newsletter has been sent out to our network already three times and was received positively. It is based on the outputs of a previous survey called “Help to improved PECBMS publication strategy” which we have spread in 2014 among 321 respondents. Most of them preferred to be informed regularly in the form of an e-mail newsletter.