How citizen scientists are rapidly generating big distribution data: lessons from the Arewa Atlas Team, Nigerian Bird Atlas Project.


The Arewa Atlas Team (AAT) in northern Nigeria has set an example for robust methodological data collection and made a big impact on the African Bird Atlas Project. To broaden national bird atlas projects and coverage across the continent, this paper reports on the activities and protocols of the AAT. We set out how we have galvanised bird clubs and bird club members to participate in this important monitoring project. We then focus on a bird atlas expedition conducted to the Bauchi State as an example. The outing was carried out from 24 to 28 September 2020 in line with the BirdMap protocol. For the first time, the AAT atlased 100 pentads and recorded 8 591 individual birds of 222 species (24.21% of Nigerian birds) from 67 families. We explore what can be done with these data, by presenting a summary of descriptions of the birds observed. For instance, we recorded 184 resident species, nine intra-African and 24 Palearctic migrants. The highest bird abundance (120 individuals) was recorded at 11°00′26.9″ N, 9°29′46.5″ E, pentad 1105C0925. Furthermore, the Rock Firefinch Lagonosticta sanguinodorsalis was out-of-range from Lumba. The Tawny Eagle Aquila rapax (Vulnerable) and Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus (Near Threatened) were species of conservation concern. Results of this survey show that citizen science is a powerful tool to make rapid biodiversity assessments of bird species richness and abundance and provides insights into bird occurrence and composition. This can be extended to distribution over time at a local geographic scale. Continuous efforts to map bird distributions are therefore recommended, mostly in regions and countries where atlas projects have not been established or are still in the formative stages. It is important that bird atlas teams maximise ways to accomplish more noteworthy coverage in their respective national bird atlas projects and here we outline how we accomplished this as motivation and a model for the African Bird Atlas Project

An interesting read from the Arewa Atlas Team here