Despite a long history of ornithology in India, the distribution and abundance of birds in the subcontinent are still relatively poorly known. In particular, several biogeographic patterns remain unclear because of major information gaps. For example, similarities in the fauna of the Western Ghats and the Eastern Himalayas likely results from links between the Central Indian Highlands, the Eastern Ghats or both, but the avifauna of these biogeographical corridors is poorly known.
This project focuses on the Central Indian Highlands—specifically, the Central Plateaus and the Vindhya and Satpura mountain ranges, which lie mostly in the Indian states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. As an illustration of the region’s data scarcity, the two states cover nearly 13 per cent of India’s land mass but account for just 2.3 per cent of bird occurrences records in the eBird Observational Dataset.
This project will research and collate both published and unpublished historical observations from the region, analyse specific geographical gaps in the data and conduct targeted fieldwork, with the goal of generating a more complete dataset of bird occurrences for the region and the nation.
By gathering much-needed information on the distribution and abundance of bird species in this region, the project will clarify the range boundaries between several pairs of sister species. The team also expects to identify and train local biodiversity champions who can record and identify species occurrences, forming the backbone of an observation network—for birds and other taxa—that persists after the project, gathering systematic data on an ongoing basis to help detect population and range changes in the region.
Bird Count India will carry out the work and lead a consortium of organizations and groups working towards bird documentation in India.
A large amount of biodiversity information has been collected or identified, particularly eBird observations and occurrence records held by local naturalists and groups. The project will now seek to digitize and publish these records.
As part of the core team, two bird experts have joined the project and received training to uncover existing information and data sources about the region’s avifauna, fill gaps by conducting surveys in poorly represented regions and conduct capacity-building workshops with the assistance of regional stakeholders.
Through five capacity-building workshops in Madhya Pradesh, training has reached a total of 140 naturalists and personnel from the Forest Department contributing to the communication of over 300 people.