Herrando, S., V. Keller, H.-G. Bauer, L. Brotons, M. Eaton, M. Kalyakin, A. Lehikoinen, P. Milanesi, D. Noble, I. Ramírez, P. Vorísek & R. Foppen (2019)

Using the first European Breeding Bird Atlas for science and perspectives for the new Atlas.

Further information

Bird Stud. 66: 149–158



Capsule: The first European Bird Census Council (EBCC) Atlas of European Breeding Birds has been widely used in scientific publications.
Aims: To quantify how scientific publications have used data from the first European Bird Census Council (EBCC) Atlas of European Breeding Birds, what the topics of these studies have been, and to identify key aspects in which a second European Breeding Bird Atlas will provide new opportunities for basic and applied science.
Methods: We searched Google Scholar to find papers published in scientific journals that cited the first atlas. We analysed the contents of a random selection of 100 papers citing this atlas and described the way these papers used information from it.
Results: The first atlas has been cited in 3150 scientific publications, and can be regarded as a fundamental reference for studies about birds in Europe. It was extensively used as a key reference for the studied bird species. A substantial number of papers re-analysed atlas data to derive new information on species distribution, ecological traits and population sizes. Distribution and ecology were the most frequent topics of studies referring to the atlas, but this source of information was used in a diverse range of studies. In this context, climate change, impact of agriculture and habitat loss were, by order, the most frequently studied environmental pressures. Constraints in the atlas, such as the poor coverage in the east of Europe, the lack of information on distribution change and the coarse resolution were identified as issues limiting the use of the atlas for some purposes.
Conclusions: This study demonstrates the scientific value of European-wide breeding bird atlases. A second atlas, with its almost complete coverage across Europe, the incorporation of changes in distribution between the two atlases and the inclusion of modelled maps at a resolution of 10 × 10 km will certainly become a key data source and reference for researchers in the near future.