Volunteers who share observations through the eBird programme led by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (CLO) added almost 64 million new records in 2015, bringing the total number of occurrences in the eBird Observational Dataset (EOD) to more than 275 million. The update also pushed the number of open-access species occurrence records available through GBIF.org past the 700 million mark for the first time.
Overall, the eBird dataset grew at a rate of 30.1 per cent in 2015. Although the bulk of the occurrences are still recorded in North America, an increasing proportion of the 2015 observations have come from birdwatchers elsewhere around the world. The countries of Asia accounted for a 110 per cent increase, while Europe (77%), Africa (58%), South America (55%) and Oceania (38%) all grew faster on a percentage basis than North America (27%).
Among GBIF participating countries, Portugal (168%) and India (154%) showed the largest annual percentage increases, rising to become, respectively, the 8th and 5th largest national segments in the EOD. The United States and Canada, meanwhile, added 43 million and 7 million records each, growth of 25 and 39 per cent, respectively. Other GBIF Participant countries whose eBird records increased by 60% or more in 2015 include Slovakia, Brazil, Benin, Slovenia, Denmark, Colombia, Philippines, Argentina, Kenya, Spain, Ghana and South Africa.
The Lab of Ornithology derives the CC0-licenced EOD from eBird's real-time, online checklist at the end of every year. Releasing this dataset into public domain freely enables its use and analysis across linguistic, political and geographic boundaries. Since the last update in November 2015, more than 11,000 user downloads from GBIF.org have included records from the EOD. In previous years, the collaborative U.S.-based project VertNet has prepared and hosted the dataset, but this year CLO simplified the process by directly exporting EOD records into a GBIF-compatible Darwin Core Archive format.
eBird volunteers include professional ornithologists, recreational birders and citizen scientists, who use the Internet and mobile apps to contribute their bird sightings to CLO's wide network of regional and thematic partners. This update includes observations dating from March 1810 to 31 December 2015.
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