Awareness of biodiversity
Status of biodiversity
Threats to biodiversity
Measures that safeguard biodiversity
Measures that mainstream biodiversity
Benefits derived from biodiversity and ecosystem services
Impacts on biodiversity outside of Ireland
Knowledge of Irish biodiversity
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Across many habitats, birds are generally regarded as good general indicators of the broad state of wildlife and of the countryside, for both scientific and practical reasons (Furness and Greenwood, 1993; Gregory et al. 1995; Crowe, 2012). They are relatively easy to detect, identify and census, their taxonomy is stable, and the general level of understanding of their biology is quite high. As group, they can be found across a broad range of habitat types and, relative to other animals, are moderately abundant and of intermediate body size and life span. Consequently, their populations respond to changes in the environment at moderate spatial and temporal scales.
The Countryside Bird Survey is Ireland's national monitoring scheme for common and widespread breeding birds. The scheme began in 1998 and is funded by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and is coordinated by BirdWatch Ireland. Operating since 1968, BirdWatch Ireland is Ireland’s largest independent conservation organisation with currently over 14,000 members distributed through 20 branches nationwide. The population data from each species is analysed using TRIM (Trends and Indices for Monitoring data - Pannekoek & van Strien 2005), a programme to analyse time-series of counts with missing observations using Poisson regression. Each year, the geometric mean of the indices for each species is calculated for all species in the Countryside Bird Survey, and for subsets of species that are largely associated with specific habitats.
Across the 55 common and widespread species observed as part of the Countryside Bird Survey, bird populations experienced a 2.4% decrease between 2013-2014, 2.6% decrease from 2010-2014 and 3.8% decrease from 2005-2014. On a per species basis, from 1998-2014, 17 species have stable populations, 16 are in decline and 22 are increasing.
These trends should be interpreted in the context of significant large-scale declines in common bird populations across Europe during and prior to the 1980s, suggesting that present day populations are at their lowest level (Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme, 2015).
More information on BirdWatch Ireland can be found here:
More information on the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme can be found here:
Crowe, O. 2012. Developing Birds and Indicators in Ireland. Report to the Heritage Council, Ireland.
Furness, R.W., Greenwood, J.J.D. 1993. Birds as monitors of environmental change. London: Chapman & Hall.
Gregory, R.D., van Strien, A., Vorisek, P., Gmelig Meyling, A.W., Nobel, D.G., Foppen, R.P.B., Gibbons, D.W. 2005. Developing indicators for European birds. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B. 360: 269-288.
Pannekoek, J., van Strien, A. 2005. TRIM 3 manual. TRends and Indices for Monitoring data. Research Project No. 100384. Voorburg, The Netherlands: Statistics Netherlands. http://www.cbs.nl/en-GB/menu/themas/natuur-milieu/methoden/trim/default.htm
Pannekoek, J., van Strien, A. 2005. TRIM 3 Manual (Trends & Indices for Monitoring data). CBS, Voorburg, The Netherlands. http://www.cbs.nl/en-GB/menu/themas/natuur-milieu/methoden/trim/default.htm?Languageswitch=on
Bird populations are sensitive to changes in land-use and agricultural practices at moderate spatial and temporal scales, and have been considered as good general indicators of the broad state of wildlife and the countryside. This indicator is based on the population trends of native wild breeding birds in Ireland. Co-ordinated by BirdWatch Ireland, wide-scale monitoring schemes measure the population sizes of 55 species across a variety of habitats.