Eurasian African Bird Migration Atlas project

In September 2018 work started on the development of a Eurasian African Bird Migration Atlas. This is the first component of the CMS Global Animal Migration Atlas. The Eurasian African Bird Migration Atlas is being developed and compiled by EURING. We are delighted to be undertaking this project which has long been one of EURING’s key objectives. Here we provide an outline of the project and identify key contacts concerning different components of the work. We currently plan to publish the Atlas online in Spring 2022.

Atlas launched - 26 May 2022

The Eurasian African Migration Atlas is now live. Visit to view this amazing resource. Huge thanks to the whole Atlas team for their efforts, for the contributions of our reviewers and photographers, to CMS for helping to facilitate the project and to the Italian Government for financial support.


Organization and key contacts

EURING’s work on the Migration Atlas is co-ordinated by its Migration Atlas Committee chaired by Stephen Baillie. Within this group members of the Atlas Management Group are responsible for operational management of the project. Contractual arrangements are organised through the Institute of Avian Research, Welhelmshaven thanks to the involvement of its director, Franz Bairlein. The lead investigators for the main project modules are detailed below.

The Convention on Migratory Species

The Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), often referred to as the Bonn Convention, is an environmental treaty that operates under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme. CMS provides a global platform for the conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats. Various agreements made under the auspices of CMS such as the African-Eurasian migratory Waterbirds Agreement (AEWA), MOU on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia (Raptors MOU) and the African-Eurasian Migratory Landbirds Action Plan (AEMLAP) underpin its work. Migration is at the heart of what CMS does, so a Eurasian African bird migration atlas will provide crucial information to underpin its work. The development of the Eurasian African Bird Migration Atlas has been funded with the contribution granted by the Government of Italy under the Migratory Species Champion Programme. To this end, Italy was recognized as Champion Plus for the period 2018-2021.

Project overview

An article providing an overview of the project was published in the Autumn 2018 issue of the BTO’s LifeCycle magazine. You can view and download a copy of the article here.

Atlas components and project leads

The Atlas work programme is divided into a series of components as detailed below. For each module we list the main investigator(s) who are likely to be the best people to contact concerning specific questions about particular modules.

Collation of the master dataset of ring recoveries and data validation involves updating and checking the ring recovery data held by the EURING databank which is hosted by the British Trust for Ornithology. We will work with National Ringing Centres to ensure that their contributions are up-to-date and to obtain formal permissions for use of their data in the Atlas. We will undertake a range of checks on the ring recovery data in order to correct or exclude unreliable data.
Project team: Samantha Franks (BTO), Dorian Moss (EDB manager), Justin Walker (BTO), Stephen Baillie (Lead investigator, BTO).

Collation and access to tracking data will focus on the provision of tracking data for the Migration Atlas project. The principal source of these data will be Movebank, which is hosted by the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology and is the largest global repository of tracking data, holding over a billion locations of tracked animals. It will provide both a means of accessing existing datasets (with the owner’s permission) and a mechanism through which further datasets can be added to the project.
Project Team:  Wolfgang Fiedler (Lead investigator), Graham Geen (BTO)

Development of web tools and solutions will focus on presenting the main Migration Atlas outputs as an integrated website. The core of the project will be some 300 accounts of the migration and movements of individual species. Each account will include a set of key maps together with standard tables and a species text. Supplementary maps and tables will also be provided and there will be options for users to select from a range of static and dynamic outputs. We are planning options to display maps that include data gathered since the main Atlas project, so that aspects of the site will continue to be updated as new data become available. The website will also include results from all other components of the project.
Project team: Andy Musgrove and Stephen Baillie (lead investigators), Justin Walker, Matthew Baxter, Samantha Franks.

Production of migration maps will focus on analysing the ring recovery and tracking data for each species and on producing migration maps and other infographics and tables to illustrate the migration patterns of different populations. Analyses will aim to distinguish the effects of data collection methods, for example variation in ring recovery probabilities between regions, from the underlying migration and movement patterns of interest. The work will be tightly integrated with the development of web tools and solutions and with the writing of the species accounts.
Project team: Samantha Franks, Stephen Baillie (lead investigator)

Species texts
Work on writing the texts describing and interpreting the movement patterns of our 300 focal species is shared accross four different organizations. The lead members of the project team within each of the contributing organizations are:
Juan Arizaga (lead investigator), Olatz Aizpurua.
Frédéric Jiguet (lead investigator),
Boris Nikolov (lead investigator),
Henk van der Jeugd (lead investigator), Henk Levering.  

An analysis of the current migration seasons of hunted species will focus on measuring the start and end dates of return migration in European Union member states to inform the EU’s Key Concepts approach for the 82 species listed on Annex II of the Birds Directive. Quantifying the start of return migration is important because it is used to determine the end of the hunting season.
Lead investigator:  Franz Bairlein.

An analysis of killing of birds by man with particular reference to illegal killing will use data on causes of recovery to assess those species that are most affected, together with the regions and time periods where most killing takes place. We will assess which species are most likely to be seriously affected and which regions should be priorities for conservation action.
Project team: Fernando Spina (lead investigator), Caterina Funghi.

Connectivity analyses will be undertaken to inform the conservation of long-distance migrants. Connectivity is considered to be high where breeding populations show little mixing on the wintering grounds and low otherwise. This has important implications for the ways in which populations are affected by environmental change, and will be studied for a set of species with appropriate data.
Project team: Roberto Ambrosini (lead investigator), Niccolò Fattorini

Work on changes in migration patterns will assess the extent to which long-term ring recovery data show major changes in migration routes and migratory behaviour. This will be investigated for a set of species with suitable long-term data. It will aim to provide a starting point for future detailed research on this important topic.
Project team: Kasper Thorup (lead investigator), Tom Romdal.

Summary of main findings and their implications for conservation
This key output will be produced towards the end of the project. Further information will be added here at a later date.

Additional information will be added to this web page as the project develops. Please check back here for updates.

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