Monday, December 6, 2010

eBird Occurrence Maps

I was planning to post something else about eBird tonight. That entry will have to wait. Earlier this afternoon I noticed the eBird team had posted the long-awaited first large set of occurrence maps on the site. Working from 42 million records and counting, the eBird team at the Cornell Lab has produced animated maps for each bird species that display their occurrence on a continental level throughout the year. This provides us with an easy to understand idea of the bird movement across the lower 48 states. Ten species were posted today, with five more to come each week. They can be found on this page along with the following detailed description of these powerful tools...

These maps, which are called STEM (Spatio-Temporal Exploratory Model) maps, use eBird checklists that report all species and include effort. The location of each checklist is associated with remotely-sensed information on habitat, climate, human population, and demographics. Fine-scale patterns of species occurrence relative to these variables (over 1000) are generated both regionally and temporally, to produce predicted occurrence at some 30,000 locations for every day of a single year (2008 in this case). This massive volume of information is then summarized on maps, which in many cases provide unprecedented information about the annual cycles of North American birds. These maps showcase the power of eBird – year-round, continental-scale monitoring of all species.

I definitely encourage you to visit the page and look at the maps. Each one really does tell a unique story and offer us something to learn. It goes without saying that all of this is possible because so many thousands of people use eBird every day. If you are not you need to be as soon as possible! You will not regret it, and there is no better time than the present. Even if you are recording data in another way, I hope you realize how eBird needs your sightings right now, past, present, and future, for amazing projects such as this one.

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