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Chinese researchers prepare GIS-based bird database

China: Researchers at the Center for Earth System Science, Tsinghua University, prepared China”s bird watching database with geographic coordination, ‘China Bird Watching Database’ (CBWD). They also developed the spherical GIS software ‘Global Analyst’ to create the point-based database, which contains accurate spatial-temporal information.

Since bird is one of the most sensitive indicators of ecosystem health, the database is of great importance. Comparing the new records with their original distributions, researchers found the trend that species move to higher latitude and higher elevation regions and some species of waterfowls in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, including a suite of rare seabirds in the mainland China.

The majority of bird watchers come from the Eastern Region of China, but their covering range is spreading northwest. At the same time, they appealed to adopting a suite of new technologies for observation and building up sharing platform of bird watching data to capture the distribution dynamics of birds in China and provide a direct foundation for bird conservation.

One can read detailed information about the CBWD in their paper, ‘Bird Watching in China Reveals Bird Distribution Changes’, published in 2012 (31) issue of Chinese Science Bulletin. The paper is senior-authored by LI Xueyan and led by Professor GONG Peng from Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Earth System Modeling, Center for Earth System Science, Tsinghua University.

Xueyan Li and her team analysed 30936 records from 2003 to 2007 in CBWD, including 17 orders, 70 families and 1078 species, representing over 80 percent of all bird species in China.

In terms of globally-threatened species on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) red list, the current database includes four critically-endangered species, 11 endangered species and 44 vulnerable species (Birdlife International, 2008), whilst also highlighting 27 species in the under Protection Class I. CBWD includes 14 species which are additions to the national checklist, these new records occur either border on other countries (Yunnan, Sinkiang and Tibet) or are coastal areas (Tianjin and Hebei). 109 species appeared outside their original distributions from 2003 to 2007, show a trend of moving to high latitude and high elevation regions, which provide evidence for researches about ecological response to climate change.

Source: Springerlink.com