A recent study has revealed that there is a strong decline in European bird populations over the past 30 years. The bird populations in question are from the most widespread species, such as the house sparrow, but the study also showed that the numbers of less frequent bird in Europe have risen.
The new study was performed by the University of Exter, the RSPB and the PECBMS (the Pan-European Popular Bird Monitoring Scheme) and was published in the Ecology Letters journal. The results of the study reveal a 421 million individual bird decline in European bird populations during the past 30 years. 90% of the losses were from the most widespread species including, skylarks, home sparrows, grey partridges and starlings.
Professor Richard Inger, from the University of Exeter, had this to say about the results of the study:
It is quite worrying that the most popular species of bird are declining quickly due to the fact it is this group of birds that persons advantage from the most. It is becoming increasingly clear that interaction with the natural world and wildlife is central to human wellbeing and considerable loss of frequent birds could be really detrimental to human society.
Conservation efforts are almost always focused on rare species, but these new study results that show a shocking decline in European bird populations urge conservationists to do something about the more widespread species of birds.
The reason behind the decline in bird populations is linked to habitat defragmentation, modern farming methods and deteriorations of the atmosphere.
Petr Vorisek, a spokesperson from the PECBMS revealed that:
The study brings a very vital message to conservation practice in Europe. This would not have been doable without having thousands of skilled volunteer fieldworkers who count birds according to higher scientific requirements and contribute their information to the national monitoring schemes.
On the other hand, populations of rarer species, such as ravens, buzzards and marsh harriers, have been increasing over the past few years, due to the legal protection in Europe and as a result of direct conservation action.
Birds are very advantageous to society: they help manage pests, help disperse seeds and scavengers help remove carcasses from nature, among many things.