The contribution of citizen science to research on migratory and urban birds in Brazil

Abstract

For ages, the wide variety of colors, shapes, and behaviors of birds have attracted the attention of nature observers and professional ornithologists. Birdwatching represents an important source of data on many aspects of bird biology worldwide, particularly in Brazil, a highly biodiverse country. We reviewed the current state of citizen science with regard to Brazilian birdwatching by evaluating (a) where, (b) how much, and (c) what kind of data are collected by birdwatchers. To highlight the potential contribution of such data, we used citizen science data to evaluate the migration timing and habitat occupancy of four migratory bird species whose movements are still understudied. In addition, based on our assessment, we suggest new avenues for citizen science-based research on migratory bird ecology in Brazil. Finally, given that the urban ecology of numerous Brazilian birds is still poorly understood, we highlight how this can be remediated through the efforts of birdwatchers, given that 73% of the data is concentrated within or nearby large urban centers in southern and southeastern Brazil. We show that data generated by citizen scientists can be useful for a suite of studies, such as on habitat use and migration patterns of Brazilian birds. Therefore, citizen science is an important way to improve our knowledge about Brazilian birds and promote their conservation in an era of rapid change. Nevertheless, its impact in the long term will depend on improving the quality of the data and involvement of more birdwatchers.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank our collaborators at the Laboratório de Ecologia Espacial e Conservação (LEEC), SAVE Brasil, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. KVCB is grateful to Thiago VV Costa for help with the revision of the manuscript and Judith Szabo for the kindly revision and English improvement.

Funding

KVCB received financial support from Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior - Brasil (CAPES) - Finance Code 001. AEJ received a fellowship from the Prepared for Environmental Change Grand Challenges Initiative at Indiana University. MCR received financial support from FAPESP (processes #2013/50421-2; #2020/01779-5), CNPq (processes # 312045/2013-1; #312292/2016-3; #442147/2020-1), and PROCAD/CAPES (project # 88881.068425/2014-01).

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Correspondence to Karlla Vanessa de Camargo Barbosa.

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de Camargo Barbosa, K.V., Develey, P.F., Ribeiro, M.C. et al. The contribution of citizen science to research on migratory and urban birds in Brazil. Ornithol. Res. 29, 1–11 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s43388-020-00031-0

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Keywords

  • Birdwatching
  • Empidonomus
  • Myiodynastes
  • Pyrocephalus
  • Tyrannidae
  • Tyrannus