Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Final Report Summary - BIRD ATLAS (The compilation of a second generation ‘web-based’ ornithological atlas for Kenya)

The Kenya Bird Atlas project aimed to design, initiate and strengthen web-based mapping of the distributions of Kenyan birds, with the long term aim of providing ecological data for environmental and climatic change in a sub-saharan setting. A comparative analysis of this nature is possible considering that there was a baseline atlas done about 30 years ago. This second generation atlas is using finer grid cells of 5’x5’, which enables the monitoring of habitat-specific changes in bird species’ distributions. Niche modeling analysis were to be focused on the flagship species in categories such as endemic birds, top avian predators, threatened birds, grassland specialists and forest specialists; and the results regularly communicated in publications. Towards this goal the host institution was to train the fellow appropriate niche modeling and genetic analysis techniques. Because bird atlases requires collecting large amounts of data which is time consuming and labour intensive, the project used a citizen scientist approach and provided an ideal web based platform to interactively collect bird records and exchange information.
The project has been fully established in Kenya. A pool of over 500 citizen scientists have been mobilized and currently 118 of them are actively submitting bird records. An interactive project website and database have been set up and receiving data from the bird mappers. So far, 110,000 records have been submitted from 767 pentads. The fellow was trained at the host institution on niche modeling.
A management structure for the project that brings collaboration key institutions that include Nature Kenya, Tropical Biology Association, Arocha Kenya and the Animal Demographic Unit of the University of Cape Town has been established. Key roles of the collaborators include liason with the citizen scientists, website development and maintenance, data dissemination etc. The project has a working office at the Ornithology Section, National Museums of Kenya headquarters.
Over 500 citizen scientists have been registered, out of which about 120 are active atlassers contributing records. So far 767 grid squares/pentads have been visited so far and mapped with full protocol cards. Some of these have been visited for many times e.g. pentad 0115_3645 which has 68 full protocol cards and 41 ad hoc cards. These can be used for data analysis and can shed light on the current dynamics in the avian communities.
The project website is in place and is active (http://kenyabirdmap.adu.org.za/). The project has also set up a Facebook Group for more communications and awareness.
Several publications have been published. These include both Newspaper and Magazine articles
The project has also set up a regional ambassadors’ program. These regional ambassadors will help:- 1. To coordinate regular atlasing efforts in each region and fill gaps in the coverage, 2. To ensure quality of data for Kenya Bird Map, by assisting with vetting bird records from their regions.
The project has also developed a new mapping application to be used for Android mobile devices. This app will greatly aid mapping activities, by helping mappers locate the pentads and also eliminate the need for manually keeping lists of birds.

The project has reached and surpassed its expected final results which included:
1. Bird species data increasingly used to communicate effects of climate change on natural resources, and livelihoods, and effectively applied to influence policies on climate change adaptation in Kenya.
2. The Kenya Bird Map early warning system recognized as an effective tool to track changes in the environment and adopted by the National Climate Change Activities Coordination Committee.
3. A platform for setting national priorities for conservation and research focusing on birds and climate change, for catalysing conservation action, where necessary.
4. At least 200 ‘citizen scientists’, and six Important bird Area’s site support groups with enhanced capacity to monitor birds.
5. New bird distribution maps with improved quality and showing impacts of environmental change on vulnerable species.
6. At least two peer-reviewed scientific papers.
7. Volunteer citizen scientists’ network established across Kenya and continues to function beyond the funding period.
8. Simple, user-friendly models developed and available online and distributed among relevant institutions. The models will use bird data to communicate effects of climate change to the general public and decision makers, and guide policies on climate adaptation.

Reported by

NATIONAL MUSEUMS OF KENYA
Kenya
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