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Abundance decline in the avifauna of the European Union conceals complex patterns of biodiversity change
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  • Fiona Burns,
  • Mark A Eaton,
  • Ian J Burfield,
  • Alena Klvaňová,
  • Eva Šilarová,
  • Anna Staneva,
  • Richard Gregory
Fiona Burns
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
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Mark A Eaton
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
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Ian J Burfield
Birdlife International
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Alena Klvaňová
Czech Society for Ornithology
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Eva Šilarová
Czech Society for Ornithology
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Anna Staneva
Birdlife International
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Richard Gregory
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
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Abstract

While global assessments provide evidence of biodiversity decline, some have questioned the strength of the evidence, with local assemblage studies often showing a more balanced picture of biodiversity change. The multifaceted nature of biodiversity and imperfect monitoring datasets may partially explain these findings. Here, using an extensive high-quality dataset, we find significant biodiversity loss in the native avifauna of the European Union (EU). We estimate a decline of 17-19% in overall breeding bird abundance since 1980: a loss of 560-620 million individual birds. Both total and proportional declines in bird numbers are high amongst species associated with agricultural land. The distribution of species’ population growth rates (ln) is centred close to zero with numerical decline driven by substantial losses in abundant species. Our work supports previous assessments indicating recent biodiversity loss and calls to reduce the threat of extinctions and restore species’ abundances, for the sake of nature and people.

Peer review status:IN REVISION

30 Jun 2021Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
01 Jul 2021Assigned to Editor
01 Jul 2021Submission Checks Completed
06 Jul 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned
26 Jul 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
04 Aug 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Minor