New French bird atlas published


After six years of surveying by the French ornithological community, the country gets a new national bird atlas in November.

A bird atlas shows the status and distribution of breeding, wintering and migratory species across a city, region, country or continent, and helps further scientific research, as well as showing the changes in biodiversity over the years. France has had two national atlases of bird species — one published in 1975 and the second in 1989 — but since then, bird species distribution in France has significantly changed.

To update the status of and changes in France's bird populations since the last atlas in a time when the EU is grappling with its 2020 biodiversity strategy, a new edition of the French bird atlas will be published on November 12.

The atlas was developed by LPO (BirdLife in France) and SEOF (The Ornithological Society of Studies of France) with the scientific collaboration of the National Natural History Museum, Paris. The Atlas sums up 357 species and three subspecies that breed or winter in France in 1,400 pages spread over two volumes. The book will be illustrated by over 700 photographs and 1,500 abundance and range maps, showing historical and current distributions.

As with the British Trust for Ornithology's (BTO) Bird Atlas 2007–11, the task wasn't easy. The Atlas is based on six years of research efforts on each bird's distribution, reproductive status and abundance by the ornithological community, using the fieldwork of thousands of observers, volunteers and employees, who collected information on nesting birds over four springs.

To make sure the Atlas covered the whole country and its maps were as detailed as possible, the country was divided into a grid of nearly 6,000 squares of 10 × 10 km, much in the way the BTO divides Britain for surveying. Each square was then surveyed by birdwatchers and scientists.

The Atlas des Oiseaux Nicheurs de France métropolitaine should be a great tool to help the protection of species and biodiversity, and will be available online and for purchase here.