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Biodiversity - Status of Wild Bird Populations

High Level Summary of Statistics Trend Last update: Thursday, November 17, 2016

Status of Wild Bird Populations
 

Birds can respond relatively quickly to variations in habitat extent and quality through changes in breeding output, survival or dispersal. Since most widespread and abundant bird species are relatively easy to identify and count, they are often used as indicators of environmental change. The Scottish Government has established a National Indicator to increase the index of abundance of terrestrial breeding birds in Scotland. This is used as a proxy measure of biodiversity, as biodiversity cannot be measured by a single indicator. The graph shows the indices for terrestrial breeding birds, breeding seabirds and waterbirds.

The number of wintering waterbirds rose between the mid-1980s and mid-1990s, reaching a peak in 1997. Since then there has been a steady decline, with the abundance falling 26% between 1997 and 2013. The abundance of breeding seabirds has declined by 44% between 1991 and 2014. The abundance of terrestrial breeding birds has shown a long-term increase of 21.3% between 1994 and 2015. The index generally increased up to a peak in 2008, but has since decreased by 7% overall. There has been little change in the index between 2014 and 2015.

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Source: British Trust for Ornithology/Royal Society for Protection of Birds/Joint Nature Conservation Committee/Wildfowl and Wetland Trust

(1) The population of wintering waterbirds is measured in the winter beginning in the year indicated. i.e 2013 indicates populations measured from approximately September 2013 - March 2014. Data for wintering waterbirds is supplied in a smoothed format while data for terrestrial brreding birds and breeding seabirds are unsmoothed.

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