How many wild birds are there on Earth?  The AI ​​did the math

How many wild birds are there on Earth? The AI ​​did the math

A coalition of citizen science combined with big data analyzes conducted by artificial intelligence has recently made it possible to estimate the total number of wild birds in the world. Results: There are about fifty billion, representing more than 9,700 species.

The number of birds on Earth is about six times the number of humans. Some number in the billions, others in the millions, and still others as few as a handful. “Humans have put a lot of effort into counting members of our species – we all number 7.8 billion people.”recalls Will Cornwell, an ecologist at UNSW and co-author of the study. “Here we present the first global effort to census a range of other species.”.

Citizen science and algorithms

As part of this work, Cornwell and his team collected nearly one billion bird observations recorded by More than 600,000 citizen scientists between 2010 and 2019 on EBird, an online database. Using this data, the researchers then developed an algorithm to estimate the true global population of each bird species.

The dataset includes records for almost all species currently living on Earth (92%). However, the authors believe that representatives of the remaining 8%, which is very rare, are unlikely to have a significant impact on the overall estimate.

Of this sample, only four species belong to the “billion club”: the house sparrow (1.6 billion), the common starling (1.3 billion), the ring-billed gull (1.2 billion), and the barn swallow (1.1 billion).

Real support for conservation

Conversely, about 12% of the bird species included in the study have a global population size of about 12%. Less than 5,000 individuals. Among them are the Chinese crested tern, rock ptarmigan, and Wallace's rail.

READ  space . A "very impressive" meteor in the sky of Dijon and Chatillon-sur-Seine on Thursday evening

For these birds, this type of study may be crucial. “Measuring species abundance is the first of its kind An essential step in conservation.”Cornwell confirms. “By properly counting what is present, we identify species that may be at risk and we can track how these patterns change over time. So we will be able to determine how these species are doing by repeating the study in five or ten years.”.

Credits: makamuki0/pixabay

Although the researchers are confident in their estimates, they recognize that a certain degree of uncertainty is inevitable when dealing with such large data.

However, these results, although approximate in some areas, represent the most comprehensive data to date for many species. New information will be regularly added to eBird based on citizen feedback. The researchers plan to repeat their analysis as more data becomes available.

You will find details of this work in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *