Kerala gets its first ever scientific bird atlas

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Kerala gets its first ever scientific bird atlas

  • The Kerala Bird Atlas (KBA), the first-of-its-kind state-level bird atlas in India, has created solid baseline data about the distribution and abundance of various bird species across all major habitats giving an impetus for futuristic studies.
  • Conducted as a citizen science-driven exercise with the participation of over 1000 volunteers of the bird watching community, KBA was prepared based on systematic surveys held twice over 60 days a year during the wet (July to September) and dry (January to March) seasons between 2015 and 2020.

Bird atlas

  • A bird atlas is an ornithological work that attempts to provide information on the distribution, abundance, long-term change as well as seasonal patterns of bird occurrence and make extensive use of maps.
  • They often involve a large numbers of volunteers to cover a wide geographic area and the methods used are standardized so that the studies can be continued in the future and the results remain comparable.
  • In some cases the species covered may be restricted to those that breed or are resident.

Survey conduct

  • Volunteers were divided into survey teams of two to five members.
  • They were deployed across all 14 districts armed with technological tools like Locus Free, an Android GPS application and eBird platform for seamless conduct of the survey and documentation.

Findings of Survey

  • KBA accounted for nearly three lakh records of 361 species, including 94 very rare species, 103 rare species, 110 common species, 44 very common species, and 10 most abundant species.
  • It is arguably Asia’s largest bird atlas in terms of geographical extent, sampling effort and species coverage derived from the aggregation of 25,000 checklists.
  • It was found that the species count was higher during the dry season than in the wet season while species richness and evenness were higher in the northern and central districts than in the southern districts.
  • Among the species, White-cheeked Barbet and House Crow with 13,855 records 12,380 occurrence records topped the chart compared to 20 other species, which had just single occurrence records.
  • Most of the endemics were concentrated in the Western Ghats while the threatened species were mostly along the coasts.