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Latest news

2014 could easily be SABAP2's best year for data collection!

2014-07-15 22:32:43

Annual progress SABAP2

Team SABAP2, we could easily make 2014 the best year ever for the project.

The orange bars in this plot are the important ones. They show how many checklists were made for SABAP2, the second bird atlas project, in each year since the project started in July 2007. The project got off to a slow start! Fewer than 2000 checklists were made in between July and December 2007, and fewer than 10000 in 2008. But since then, the project has hovered around 17000 to 18000 checklists per year. 2010 was SABAP2's best year, by around 1000 checklists. There are certainly checklists from 2013 still to be submitted, so 2013 could easily actually be above 2012. So, in spite of fuel price increases, and all the economic pressures we are subjected to, Team SABAP2 has managed to maintain data collection at a remarkably consistent level.

Just past the middle of 2014, the number of checklists made this year is close to 9000. Knowing that there is lots of data for the year still to be submitted, the real total is likely to be above 9000. Extrapolating for the remainder of 2014, this year could easily rival 2010 as SABAP2's best year for data collection.

So we urge all atlasers to put their best foot forward for the remainder of 2014, and we urge any birders who are not yet atlasing to come on board. We are not near the end of SABAP2, we are near the beginning!

SABAP2 is the fundamental project to bird conservation in the region. It holds this status because a knowledge of bird distributions and how they are changing through time is the most important ingredient in taking decisions about which species are getting into trouble, and to prioritizing how resources should be spent on bird conservation initiatives.

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Greater Kruger National Park Challenge – 2014 – the mid-year progress report says "Outstanding"

2014-07-08 13:56:31

Greater KNP

The Second Southern African Bird Atlas Project has selected a few key areas for special annual attention. This reports on excellent progress with the Greater Kruger National Park Challenge for 2014.

Although the Greater Kruger National Park Challenge was set up at the start of 2014, we have not made a big deal of it.

This challenge supplements the annual atlasing effort on the Four Degree region, centred on the Johannesburg and Pretoria conurbation. This constitutes the Greater Gauteng challenge area and it is important because about 30% of South Africa’s population lives in it. The Kruger National Park and its environs are important because this is the premier conservation region in southern Africa. In the Greater Gauteng area, we need to monitor intensively because we fear that development will impact the birds. In the Kruger National Park, we need to monitor intensively because we hope that there will be little change to bird species composition through time. If there are changes, then it is due to causes other than “development.”

The underpinning paradigm for the Greater Kruger National Park Challenge is the same as for the Four Degrees region. We aim to go as wide as we can (ie to get full protocol checklists from as many pentads as possible) and we aim to go as high as we can (ie to build the stack of checklists on each pentad as high as possible).

We defined the region for the Greater Kruger National Park Challenge as every pentad east of 31°E and north of 26°S (and inside the South Africa border with Mozambique). This includes quite a lot of territory outside the park, but this is important because it enables “inside-outside” comparisons to be made. See the map below. There are a total of 671 pentads in the region. In 2013, atlasers visited 326 of the 671 pentads (48%) and accumulated a total of 1154 checklists. So for 2014, we decided that aiming to visit 350 pentads, and making 1250 checklists were realistic targets

How has Team SABAP2 Greater Kruger National Park fared? They have done remarkably well. By 8 July they had visited 283 pentads (that is 80.9% of the target). It looks as if we will be able to adjust the coverage target upwards! Already, 680 checklists (54.4% of the target) have been submitted. Just beyond the halfway stage of the year, this as pect the challenge is on track.

Atlasers, if you visit this region, please become part of Team SABAP2 Greater Kruger National Park, and help to monitor bird populations in one of Africa’s most important protected areas. SABAP2 is unique in being able to provide a broad-brush monitoring of all bird species across this large area.

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Two-thirds coverage in 2014 of the Four Degrees of Greater Gauteng reached on 5 July

2014-07-06 15:38:51

66.67% coverage on 5 July for the Four Degrees

Celebration time for the Second Southern African Bird Atlas Project! It is only a couple of days after mid-year. But 'Team SABAP2 Greater Gauteng' have already achieved two-thirds coverage of the Four Degree Squares defined as Greater Gauteng. This is the area inside the Red Square on the 2014-only coverage map. So there are almost six months left to tackle the final one-third, inevitably the more inaccessible and challenging pentads to reach.

In detailed numbers, 384 of the 576 pentads in this region have already had a full protocol checklist made in 2014. We also set ourselves the target of an average of six checklists per pentad for the year. That is 6 × 576 = 3456 checklists. Team SABAP2 Greater Gauteng is already at 1848, 53.5% of the target, just nicely ahead of schedule.

Three pentads are shaded PURPLE – astonishingly this means that they already have more than 50 checklists. Another 11 are RED, and they have more than 25 checklists. Is this really a celebration. Yes, it is, and it is a reason for celebration because the statisticians who analyse these data thrive on large sample sizes. Many of the little biases that bedevil analyses with small samples are averaged out by large sample sizes. These large samples will enable us to detect changes in species composition more easily.

This is the area where stuff is going to happen. 30% of South Africa’s population lives and works and plays in the Red Square. The development pressure is huge and is going to continue to be huge. The pressure on biodiversity is going to be huge, and it is only as we have lots of good solid quantitative data to back up the conservation agenda do we have a chance of mitigating the impact of development.

The map also includes a half-degree broad band around the edge of the Red Square. Please don’t neglect this region. Some of it does not yet have four checklists in total since SABAP2 began seven years ago.

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DAY 1 of YEAR 8 of SABAP2

2014-07-01 23:35:24

Wish list for Year 8 of SABAP2

The eighth year of SABAP2, the Second Southern African Bird Atlas Project starts today, 1 July 2014. When we set out on this journey on 1 July 2007, none of us dreamed that we would still be keeping going. The biggest lesson from SABAP2 is that bird distributions are on the move. We cannot afford to stop atlasing. SABAP2 is probably the best broad-brush bird monitoring exercise anywhere on the planet.

(1) If you are an atlaser, please maintain “sustainable atlasing.” We cannot afford for you to suffer “burn-out.” Please keep on atlasing at the pace you enjoy doing it.

(2) If you are not yet an atlaser, please learn the protocol and get involved. We are NOT near the END of the project, we are near the BEGINNING. We need you on board. Atlasing is easier than it has ever been with Lynx Birdticks (Android) and BirdLasser (iPhone). See their Facebook pages.

Keep Calm and Keep Atlasing(3) There is no pentad for which we have “enough” data.

(4) The top priority remains full protocol checklists – a minimum of two hours of intensive birding within a pentad which aims to produce as comprehensive a list as feasible of the species present in the pentad.

(5) If you are able to travel, please help fill the major gaps in coverage. Try to participate in gap-filling expeditions. Even better, take courage, and organize an expedition yourself.

(6) Please treat any pentad with fewer than four full-protocol checklists as a top priority pentad.

(7) If you are in an area where data coverage is poor, and you have the opportunity to make even a short list of species for a few minutes, please submit the records as an ad hoc list.

(8) If you have seen a single species which you know is rare in a pentad (or might not yet have been observed), please submit it as an incidental record. If in doubt, submit.

(9) If a pentad has not yet been atlased in 2014, treat it as a priority. Try to get 2014 coverage up to four checklists in as many pentads as feasible.

(10) Please be careful. Please ask permission before you venture onto private land. Please don’t atlas and drive at the same time.

(11) If you have a collection of "Out of Range Forms" (ORFs) please make a resolution to deal with them.

(12) Please try to be an Ambassador for Biodiversity. How do you answer this question: “How does my participation SABAP2 make a difference for biodiversity conservation?”?

(13) Please try to recruit new atlasers. Mentoring is a powerful tool in bringing new atlasers on board. We need to share the workload out more broadly!

(14) If you are within striking distance of the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens on Saturday, 16 August, please attend the ADU's Citizen Scientist Day. On the pogramme will be bird atlas feedback. We have done comparisons between bird distributions in the first and second bird atlas projects. The changes go way beyond anyone’s wildest expectations.

(15). Most important, your participation needs to be something that you enjoy doing.

Viva SAPAB2!

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