A bird atlas is a citizen science project intended to map the distribution and abundance of a region’s birds. In an atlas project, the region of interest is typically divided into cells that are often subdivided into smaller cells, a design that can ensure uniform sampling in space by volunteer birdwatchers. In the Kerala Bird Atlas for example, the entire state of Kerala was divided into 6.6 x 6.6 km grid cells, which were subdivided into four 3.3 x 3.3 km quadrants, which were further subdivided into nine 1.1 x 1.1 km subcells. By sampling in one randomly selected subcell in each quadrant, the entire state could be uniformly surveyed with equal effort at the scale of a quadrant.
The strength of a bird atlas project lies in its structured surveying design, making both analyses and comparisons over time easy. Mysore, Kerala and Coimbatore all have invaluable baseline information that can help develop plans to maximize biodiversity in those regions. Structured datasets from bird atlases also play a very important role in informing and calibrating analyses of semi-structured data such as the eBird dataset, just as the Kerala Bird Atlas played a vital role in informing the analyses for the State of India’s Birds report.
Among the basic things we need to know about any species is where is it found, and in what abundance? Bird Atlas projects are designed to give fine-scaled answers to these large questions. For this reason, Bird Atlases take a lot of time and effort! But the results they yield can be of immense value to our understand of birds and their conservation.
Proposed content (coming soon)
What is an atlas
Examples of atlases
Why are atlases useful?
How to plan an atlas