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Avibase is an online database that organizes bird taxonomic and distribution data globally. At its core, the database relies on the notion of taxonomic concepts rather than taxonomic names. The rationale and the methodology for this were explained in a paper published in ZooKeys (Lepage et al., 2014). This web site offers checklists for over 20,000 geographic regions of the world, species pages with taxonomic information and synonyms, and tools for observers to maintain their own sightings and obtain reports (e.g. map showing countries or eBird hotspots with the number of target species that are missing from one of their life list).
Avibase incorporates taxonomic data from the major taxonomic publishers (Clements's checklist, HBW/Birdlife, IOC Checklist and Howard and Moore) and other regional sources (e.g. all editions of the AOU checklist since 1886). Taxonomic concepts in over 230 different taxonomic sources have been mapped and cross-referenced to Avibase concepts.
Avibase has been created and maintained by Denis Lepage, Senior Director, Data Science and Technology at Birds Canada. The site has been hosted by Birds Canada from its inception.
Avibase is used for several purposes. At its root, it is a database of taxonomic concepts and contains descriptions of nomenclatural data and taxonomic mappings. This information is summarized into taxonomic concept pages (e.g. American Robin, Avibase ID D77E4B418D581FB2). In addition, it also provides users over 20,000 regional checklists, which are available according to a number of taxonomic authorities constantly being maintained, and also include common names in nearly 200 possible languages, and the ability to create printable PDF versions as wel as illustrated checklists. Regional checklists include all countries, territories and dependencies, and most regions defined in the GADM subnational layers such as provinces, states, prefectures, counties, departments, municipalities and districts (GADM levels 1 and 2), as well as over 2,500 islands.
Distribution data for checklists comes from a wide array of references and are constantly being reviewed for new records and changed decisions. Whenever available, list from published authorities (e.g. regional rare bird committees) as used as primary source of information. Official lists are generally only available for countries (though not for all countries), and some states and provinces (e.g. US, Canada, Australia). A few times per year, records from the eBird EBD dataset published by Cornell Lab of Ornithology are also scrutinized and incorporated into species distribution data when appropriate on the basis of the details provided. Internet forums, such as the Facebook Global Rare Bird Alert, the American Bird Association blog, the HBW first country record, Birdguides, and the Tarsiger web site are used to supplement distribution records. New potential records not yet vetted by rarity committees in a region are generally provisionally evaluated on the basis of the information and documentation provided before they are included in Avibase, which may lead to minor differences betwen the official lists and Avibase.
|Type of property||Number of records|
|Total number of records||37,975,738|
|Number of unique taxonomic concepts (Avibase ID)||58,800|
|Number of taxonomic concept authorities (e.g. Clements)||27|
|Number of taxonomic concept versions mapped (e.g. Clements, version 2019)||241|
|Number of species taxonomic concepts from authorities||1,916,749|
|Number of subspecies taxonomic concepts from authorities||1,467,353|
|Number of scientific names||59,294|
|Number of known basionyms||39,930|
|Number of regional checklists||37,038|
|Number of distribution records||20,924,888|
|Number of published references used||2,721|
|Common names and multimedia|
|Number of synonyms||1,171,896|
|Number of bird song recordings indexed||1,372,823|
|Number of bird photos indexed (Flickr)||2,159,824|
|Number of data contributors||876|
|Number of photos contributors||1,735|
|Number of Avibase users||16,703|