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Abundance and distribution of selected species



Contact

0.1.Contact organisation


European Environment Agency (EEA)

0.2.Contact organisation unit


European Environment Agency (EEA)
    1. Contact mail address


Kongens Nytorv 6, 1050 Copenhagen, Denmark

1.Metadata update

1.1.Metadata last certified



1.2.Metadata last posted



1.3.Metadata last update



2.Statistical presentation

2.1.Data description


The indicator Abundance and distribution of selected species (SEBI001) shows trends in the abundance of common birds and butterflies over time across their European ranges.

The indicator is published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and belongs to the SEBI group of indicators (Streamlining European Biodiversity Indicators).


2.2.Classification system


Classification in DPSIR (Driving forces, Pressures, State, Impacts, Responses): State

2.3.Sector coverage



2.4.Statistical concepts and definitions


The indicator Abundance and distribution of selected species (SEBI001) shows trends in the abundance of common birds and butterflies over time across their European ranges.

2.5.Statistical unit



2.6.Statistical population


Birds - List of species

Common farmland birds, Europe:


Alauda arvensis, Burhinus oedicnemus, Carduelis carduelis, Columba palumbus, Emberiza citrinella, Falco tinnunculus, Galerida cristata, Hirundo rustica, Lanius collurio, Lanius senator, Limosa limosa, Miliaria calandra, Motacilla flava, Passer montanus, Saxicola rubetra, Streptopelia turtur, Sturnus vulgaris, Sylvia communis, Vanellus vanellus.

Common forest birds, Europe:


Anthus trivialis, Bonasa bonasia, Carduelis flammea, Carduelis spinus, Certhia rachydactyla,
Certhia familiaris, Coccothraustes coccothraustes, Dendrocopos minor, Dryocopus martius, Ficedula albicollis, Ficedula hypoleuca, Fringilla montifringilla, Garrulus glandarius, Hippolais icterina, Jynx torquilla, Lullula arborea, Luscinia megarhynchos, Muscicapa striata, Oriolus oriolus, Parus ater, Parus caeruleus, Parus montanus, Parus palustris, Phoenicurus phoenicurus, Phylloscopus collybita, Phylloscopus sibilatrix, Picus canus, Picus viridis, Prunella modularis, Pyrrhula pyrrhula, Regulus regulus, Sitta europaea, Sylvia borin.

Other common birds, Europe:


Accipiter nisus, Aegithalos caudatus, Buteo buteo, Carduelis cannabina, Carduelis chloris, Cettia cetti, Cisticola juncidis, Corvus corone corone/cornix, Corvus monedula, Cuculus canorus, Dendrocopos major, Emberiza schoeniclus, Erithacus rubecula, Fringilla coelebs, Motacilla alba, Parus major, Phylloscopus trochilus, Pica pica, Sylvia atricapilla, Sylvia melanocephala, Troglodytes troglodytes, Turdus merula, Turdus philomelos, Turdus viscivorus, Upupa epops

Butterflies - List of species

Widespread species: Ochlodes sylvanus, Anthocharis cardamines, Lycaena phlaeas, Polyommatus icarus, Lasiommata megera, Coenonympha pamphilus and Maniola jurtina.

Specialist species: Erynnis tages, Thymelicus action, Spialia Sertorius, Cupido minimus, Maculinea arion, Maculinea nausithous, Polyommatus bellargus, Polyommatus semiargus, Polyommatus coridon and Euphydryas aurinia (EEA, 2010)

2.7.Reference area


Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom.

2.8.Time coverage


Earliest reference year available: 1980 (birds), 1990 (butterflies).

Latest reference year available: 2006 (birds), 2007 (butterflies).


2.9.Base period



3.Unit of measure


Annual change in

  • number of common / farmland / forest birds and

  • number of grassland butterflies

The indicator is presented in the form of a population index comparing with a reference year (1980 and 1990).

4.Reference period


Calendar year.

5.Institutional mandate

5.1.Legal acts and other agreements


Council Directive 79/409/EEC of 2 April 1979 on the conservation of wild birds.

Council Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005 of 20 September 2005 on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).

Directive 2009/147/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on the conservation of wild birds.

5.2. Data sharing



6.Confidentiality

6.1.Confidentiality – policy



6.2.Confidentiality - data treatment



7.Release policy

7.1.Release calendar



7.2.Release calendar access



7.3.User access


Article 6 of the EEA’s founding Regulation (EC) No 401/2009 provides that Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 on public access to documents shall apply to documents held by the Agency.

8.Frequency of dissemination


Data are disseminated on annual basis.

9.Dissemination format

9.1.News release



9.2.Publications


For an assessment of the progress that has been achieved towards the related key policy question (section 13.1) see: Abundance and distribution of selected species (SEBI001) – Assessment published in May 2010.

9.3.On-line database


Figures are published under: Abundance and distribution of selected species (SEBI001) – Assessment published in May 2010. Individual data files are available for each figure.

9.4.Micro-data access



9.5.Other

10.Accessibility of documentation

10.1.Documentation on methodology


a. common birds

BirdLife International (2004). Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status. Cambridge, United Kingdom: BirdLife International (BirdLife Conservation Series No. 12).

Donald, P. F., Sanderson, F. J., Burfield, I. J., van Bommel, F. P. J. (2006). Further evidence of continent-wide impacts of agricultural intensification on European farmland birds, 1990-2000. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 116 (2006) 189-196.

Gregory, R. D., van Strien, A., Vorisek, P., Meyling, A. W. G., Noble, D. G., Foppen, R. P. B. and Gibbons, D. W. (2005) Developing indicators for European birds. Phil.Trans. R. Soc. B. 360, 269-288.

Sanderson, F. J., Donald, P. F., Paina, D. J., Burfield, I. J., van Bommel, F. P. J. (2006). Long-term population declines in Afro-Palearctic migrant birds. Biological Conservation 131 (2006) 93-105.

Snow, D. W., Perrins, C. M., (1998). The Birds of the Western Palearctic: Concise Edition. Oxford University Press, Oxford, United Kingdom. Strategy for the Wider Environment. BirdLife International, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Tucker, G. M., Evans, M. I., (1997). Habitats for Birds in Europe: A Conservation.

b. butterflies

Donald, P. F.; Sanderson, F. J.; Burfield, I. J.; Bierman, S. M.; Gregory, R. D.; and Waliczky, Z., 2007. 'International Conservation Policy Delivers Benefits for Birds in Europe'. Science 317: 810

Feest, A. (2006) Establishing baseline indices for the environmental quality of the biodiversity of restored habitats using a standardised sampling process. Restoration Ecology, 14:112-122.

Gregory, R. D., Van Strien, A. J., Vorisek, P., Gmelig Meyling, A. W., Noble, D. G., Foppen, R. P. B. and Gibbons, D. W. (2005) Developing indicators for European birds. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B. 360, 269-288.

Pannekoek, J. and Van Strien, A. J. (2003) TRIM 3 manual. Trends and Indices for Monitoring data. CBS, Statistics Netherlands, Voorburg, Netherlands.

Pollard, E. and Yates, T. J. (1995) Monitoring butterflies for ecology and conservation. Chapman and Hall, Londen.

Thomas, J. A., Telfer, M. G., Roy, D. B., Preston, C. D., Greenwood, J. J. D., Asher, J., Fox, R., Clarke, R. T. and Lawton, J. H. (2004) Comparitive losses of British Butterflies, Birds, and Plants and the Global Extinction Crisis. Science 303, 1879-1881.

Thomas, J. A. (2005) Monitoring change in the abundance and distribution of insects using butterflies and other indicator groups. Phil. Trans. Soc. B. 360, 339-357.

Van Strien, A. J., Pannekoek, J. and Gibbons, D. W. (2001) Indexing European bird population trends using results of national monitoring schemes: a trial of a new method. Bird Study 48, 200-213.

Van Swaay, C. A. M. and Warren, M. S. (1999) Red Data Book of European Butterflies (Rhopalocera). Nature and Environment series, No. 99, Council of Europe, Strasbourg.

Van Swaay, C. A. M., Nowicki, P., Settele, J., van Strien, A.J. (2008) Butterfly monitoring in Europe: methods, applications and perspectives, Biodivers Conserv DOI 10.1007/s10531-008-9491-4

Van Swaay, C. A. M., van Strien, A.J. (2005) Using butterfly monitoring data to develop a European grassland butterfly indicator. In Proceeding Studies on the ecology and conservation of Butterfliesin Europe, december 2005



The European Butterfly Indicator for Grassland species: 1990-2007 Van Swaay, C.A.M. & Van Strien, A.J. (2008) The European Butterfly Indicator for Grassland species 1990-2007. Report VS2008.022, De Vlinderstichting, Wageningen

10.2.Quality documentation

11.Quality management

11.1.Quality assurance



11.2.Quality assessment



12.Relevance

12.1.User needs


Key policy question:

Have declines in common species in Europe been halted?



Key message:

For an assessment of the progress that has been achieved towards the related key policy question see:

Abundance and distribution of selected species (SEBI001) – Assessment published in May 2010.

Rationale:

Birds and butterflies can be excellent barometers of the health of the environment. They occur in many habitats, can reflect changes in other animals and plants, and are sensitive to environmental change (EEA, 2010/Biodiversity relevance).

This indicator reports on birds and butterflies, familiar groups of species and well known to the public. The Common Birds indicator has already been adopted by the European Union as a structural indicator, a sustainable development indicator and as a baseline indicator under the Rural Development Regulation (Council Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005). It was recommended for immediate use by the European Academics Science Advisory Council (EEA, 2010/Broad acceptance and understandability).

Common birds

Composite population trend indicators, such as the common bird index, provide a tangible basis for measuring progress towards the European target of halting biodiversity loss by 2010, and thus towards the global target of reducing the current rate of biodiversity loss by 2010. The strength of this approach is its simplicity, statistical rigor, sensitivity to change, and ease of update (which is possible annually).


The purpose of the common bird index is to enable policy makers to assess and respond to changes in the environment, and then to review the effectiveness of their actions through time. The index complements other trend information on species, sites and habitats. The farmland bird index has been adopted as a structural indicator, as a Sustainable Development Indicator by the EU, and as a baseline indicator under the Rural Development Regulation (Council Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005 on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)), which obliges all EU Member States to monitor farmland birds in the context of agri-environment measures (EEA, 2010/Context).

Butterflies

Insects are by far the most species-rich group of animals, representing over 50 % of terrestrial biodiversity. Contrary to most other groups of insects, butterflies are well documented, easy to recognize and popular with the general public. Butterflies use the landscape at a fine scale and react quickly to changes in management, intensification or abandonment. Furthermore, a sustainable butterfly population relies on a network of breeding habitats scattered over the landscape, where species exist in a metapopulation structure. This makes butterflies especially vulnerable to habitat fragmentation. Moreover, many butterflies are highly sensitive to climate change and nitrogen deposition and, because data from fine-scale mapping is available in many countries, they have been used in models predicting the impact of climate change on wildlife. Butterflies have been counted in Butterfly Monitoring Schemes since 1976 (EEA, 2010/Context).


12.2.User satisfaction



12.3.Completeness



13.Accuracy and reliability

13.1.Overall accuracy


Common birds

The overall accuracy can be considered as high.

Trend information is derived from annually operated national breeding bird surveys spanning different periods from 21 European countries, obtained through the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring scheme (PECBM). A software package named TRIM (Trends and Indices for Monitoring data) (which allows for missing counts in the time series and yields unbiased yearly indices and standard errors using Poisson regression) is used to calculate national species' indices and then to combine these into supranational indices for species, weighted by estimates of national population sizes. Weighting allows for the fact that different countries hold different proportions of each species' European population. Updated population size estimates, derived from BirdLife International (2004) are used for weighting. Although national schemes differ in count methods in the field, these differences do not influence the supranational results because the indices are standardised before being combined. An improved hierarchical imputation procedure was introduced in 2005 to calculate supranational indices. Supranational indices for species were then combined on a geometric scale to create multi-species indicators.

Butterflies

The overall accuracy can be considered as high.

The field method is based on the British Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (Pollard and Yates, 1993), in use in the United Kingdom since 1976. Counts are made on a line transect of 5 or 10 m wide with homogeneous vegetation and vegetation structure. From March or April to September or October all butterflies 2.5 m to the left and right of the recorder and 5 m in front and above should be counted under standardised weather conditions. The frequency varies from weekly to three or four visits during the season. Most of the sites are recorded by skilled volunteers. All recorders have a good knowledge of the butterfly fauna at their transect and their results are checked by butterfly experts. The main objective of the monitoring schemes is to assess changes in abundance at national and regional levels of butterflies, including species of the Habitat Directive. A European index and trend is produced for each species by combining national results for that species. The individual European species indices are combined (averaged) to create multi-species supranational indicators. This method is based on the one for bird indicators.

13.2.Sampling error



13.3.Non-sampling error



14.Timeliness and punctuality

14.1.Timeliness



14.2.Punctuality



15.Comparability

15.1.Comparability – geographical


Common birds

The comparability across countries is high - 20 countries, reflecting the availability of high-quality monitoring data from annually-operated PECBM schemes, employing generic survey methods and producing reliable national trends.

Spatial coverage: coverage of western and central Europe is now almost complete, but a few gaps remain, and a further expansion eastwards is desired; efforts to fill them are underway.

Butterflies

The comparability across countries is limited because of geographical coverage.


15.2.Comparability - over time


Common birds

Until the early 1990s, rather few European countries had common bird monitoring schemes in place, which restricts how far back in time representative trends can be calculated.



Butterflies

The comparability over time is restricted.


16.Coherence

16.1.Coherence - cross domain



16.2.Coherence – internal


Within the SEBI set:

  • EEA: Red List Index for European species (SEBI 002)

  • EEA: Species of European interest (SEBI 003)

  • EEA: Ecosystem coverage(SEBI 004)

  • EEA: Habitats of European interest (SEBI 005)

  • EEA: Livestock genetic diversity (SEBI 006)

  • EEA: Nationally designated protected areas (SEBI 007)

  • EEA: Sites designated under the EU Habitats and Birds Directives (SEBI 008)

  • EEA: Impact of climate change on bird populations (SEBI 011)

This indicator 001 is in the same SEBI focal area Status and trends of the components of biological diversity with Ind. 002 Red List Index for European species, Ind. 003 Species of European interest, Ind. 004 Ecosystem coverage, Ind. 005 Habitats of European interest, Ind. 006 Livestock genetic diversity, Ind. 007 Nationally designated protected areas, Ind. 008 Sites designated under the EU Habitats and Birds Directives.

SEBI 004 Ecosystem coverage provides information on how much of the ecosystem is left (quantity), whereas the European birds and butterflies indicators (SEBI 001) and the 'Red List Index' (SEBI 002) provide information on the remaining (average) quality within these ecosystems.



Outside the SEBI set:

  • Eurostat: Common bird index (tsdnr100)

  • Eurostat: Farmland Bird Index (tsien170)

  • EEA: Species diversity(CSI 009)

SEBI 001 reports on birds and butterflies, familiar groups of species and is well known to the public. The Eurostat Common bird index has already been adopted by the European Union as a structural indicator, a sustainable development indicator and as a baseline indicator under the Rural Development Regulation (Council Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005). It was recommended for immediate use by the European Academics Science Advisory Council (EEA, 2010/Broad acceptance and understandability).

17.Cost and burden



18.Data revision

18.1.Data revision – policy



18.2.Data revision – practice



19.Statistical processing

19.1.Source data


Data set 1: Common birds in Europe

Data set provider: European Bird Census Council (EBCC)

Link to the data source: Common birds in Europe, Trends of common birds in Europe



Data set 2: World Bird Database

Data set provider: BirdLife International

Link to the data source: Data Zone, World Bird Database



Data set 3: Birds

Data set provider: RSPB-Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (BirdLife Partner in UK).

Link to the data source: Birds by name



Data set 4: Butterflies

Data set provider: Butterfly Conservation Europe

Link to the data source:

Taxonomy of European Butterflies, made for the Red List of 2010

Red List (2010) with conservation status of 483 European butterflies

Supra-national trends of the 17 butterfly species from fourteen national Butterfly Monitoring Schemes.

Red Data Book with status of butterflies across Europe (1999) and a new Red List for the 576 resident species

Data set 5: Grassland butterflies — population index (1990 = 100)

Data set provider: The Dutch butterfly Conservation

Link to the data source: Grassland butterflies


19.2.Frequency of data collection



19.3.Data collection


Common birds

Trend information is derived from annually operated national breeding bird surveys spanning different periods from 18 European countries, obtained through the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring scheme (PECBM). The PECBM scheme is a partnership involving the European Bird Census Council, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, BirdLife International and Statistics Netherlands that aims to deliver policy relevant biodiversity indicators for Europe. A software package named TRIM (Trends and Indices for Monitoring data) (which allows for missing counts in the time series and yields unbiased yearly indices and standard errors using Poisson regression) is used to calculate national species' indices and then to combine these into supranational indices for species, weighted by estimates of national population sizes. Weighting allows for the fact that different countries hold different proportions of each species' European population. Updated population size estimates, derived from BirdLife International (2004) are used for weighting. Although national schemes differ in count methods in the field, these differences do not influence the supranational results because the indices are standardised before being combined. An improved hierarchical imputation procedure was introduced in 2005 to calculate supranational indices. Supranational indices for species were then combined on a geometric scale to create multi-species indicators.



Rationale for species selection:

For the indicator as produced in June 2005, the species selection was based on BirdLife's Habitats for birds in Europe (Tucker and Evans 1997) - arguably the most comprehensive treatment of habitats and habitat use by birds. It quantitatively assesses the proportion of each species' population that occurs in predefined habitat types across Europe. The overall assessment, while mostly quantitative, also relied to some degree on expert judgment through habitat working groups.

In the PECBM scheme, species were classified to habitat using the assessment of Tucker and Evans (1997), with the exception that montane grassland, (originally included as a sub-class of agricultural habitats) was classified as a separate habitat. All species with more than 75 % of their population occurring in one of the following eight habitats were classified as specialists of that habitat: marine; coastal; inland wetland; tundra, mires and moorland; boreal and temperate forests; Mediterranean forest, shrubland and rocky habitats; agricultural and grassland (excluding montane grassland); and montane grassland (Tucker and Evans 1997).

In addition, species with 10-75 % of their population using only one of the above were classed as specialists in that habitat, according either to Tucker and Evans (1997) for Species of European Conservation Concern (SPECs), or according to the description of Snow and Perrins (1998) for non-SPECs. Species with 10-75 % of their population in three or more woodland or farmland sub-categories in Tucker and Evans (1997) and 10 - 75 % of their population in only one other habitat category were classified as woodland or farmland specialist species respectively.

Remaining species with more than 10 % of their population occurring on more than one habitat were classed as non-specialists. Any species that did not meet the above criteria (due to insufficient data) remained unclassified. Tucker and Evans (1997) include a further habitat of lowland Atlantic heathland; however, no species met the criteria to be classed as a specialist of this habitat.

This species-habitat classification is being used in a number of BirdLife analyses - for example, of farmland birds and long-distance migrants using Bird in Europe 2 trends (Donald et al., 2006; Sanderson et al., 2006). The PECBM scheme also explores a biogeographical approach to species selection and habitat choice knowing that some species may have different habitat preferences according to the biogeographic context.



Additional information:

It should be underlined that the methodology for calculating the farmland bird index has recently changed. The new index presents a much sharper drop around the years of 1995 and 1996. While the new index is recognised as integrating better expertise in terms of species selection, further investigation is necessary to explore what is behind this drop. In addition, the influence of including both new species and the new Member States in the selection, and the starting year of monitoring schemes in some countries should be further investigated. In any case, the trend from 1996 onwards is consistent with the previous methodology and shows the index to be fairly stable.



Butterflies

The field method is based on the British Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (Pollard and Yates, 1993), in use in the United Kingdom since 1976. Counts are made on a line transect of 5 or 10 m wide with homogeneous vegetation and vegetation structure. From March or April to September or October all butterflies 2.5 m to the left and right of the recorder and 5 m in front and above should be counted under standardised weather conditions. The frequency varies from weekly to three or four visits during the season. Most of the sites are recorded by skilled volunteers. All recorders have a good knowledge of the butterfly fauna at their transect, and their results are checked by butterfly experts. Feest (2006) and van Swaay and Feest (in prep.) show that the butterfly survey data can be used to generate biodiversity quality indices for sites such that trends in biodiversity quality can be deduced. This will provide evidence of change more quickly than simple assessments and in a stastically robust way.

The main objective of the monitoring schemes is to assess changes in abundance at national and regional levels of butterflies, including species of the Habitat Directive.

A European index and trend is produced for each species by combining national results for that species. The individual European species indices are combined (averaged) to create multi-species supranational indicators. This method is based on the one for bird indicators (Gregory et al., 2005):

1. At National level: the indices for each species are produced for each country, using TRIM (Pannekoek and Van Strien, 2003). TRIM is a computer programme to analyse time-series of counts with missing observations using Poisson regression.

2. At Supranational level: to generate European trends, the difference in national population size of each species in each country has to be taken into account. This weighting allows for the fact that different countries hold different proportions of a species' European population (Van Strien et al., 2001). A weighting factor is established as the proportion of the country (or region) in the European distribution (Van Swaay and Warren, 1999). The missing year totals are estimated by TRIM in a way equivalent to imputing missing counts for particular sites within countries (Van Strien et al., 2001).



3. At multi-species level: for each year the geometric mean of the supranational indices is calculated.

19.4.Data validation



19.5.Data compilation



19.6.Adjustment



20.Comment


References:

Abundance and distribution of selected species (SEBI001) – Assessment published in May 2010

Halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010: Proposal for a first set of indicators to monitor progress in Europe. EEA Technical Report. No 11/2007.

Copyrights:

EEA standard re-use policy: unless otherwise indicated, re-use of content on the EEA website for commercial or non-commercial purposes is permitted free of charge, provided that the source is acknowledged (http://www.eea.europa.eu/legal/copyright). Copyright holder: European Environment Agency.

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Annex



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