03 February 2021
1. Colombia with 1941 known recorded bird species is one of the most species rich countries in the world. Efforts are necessary to conserve, study and promote sustainable use of this important taxonomic group throughout Colombia’s vast territory.
2. In an ideal world, informed decisions that are based on sound scientific information should be likelier to have successful outcomes. Nevertheless, there are barriers that make it difficult to access and use information in a timely fashion. Those same barriers impede the study, conservation and sustainable use of bird species in Colombia. On the other hand, given that there is good documentation about the ecology of a large number of species, information about the distribution of birds can be easily incorporated into decision-making processes, once this information becomes readily available in a consumable format using Geographic Information Sciences tools.
3. In this context, the main objective of this paper is to present the first compilation of the current distribution of 1889 (97%) species of birds in Colombia, using expert criteria. The shapefiles were used to show the distribution and diversity of bird species in Colombia under both geopolitical and conservation geographic units.
4. The information provided in this paper can be used as a baseline for a huge number of initiatives that aim to strengthen conservation efforts and improve knowledge about one the most unique taxonomic groups in the country. These range from land use planning strategies at the municipal or department scale to sustainable use of bird species - such as those initiatives related to bird watching - in Colombia.
This study has considered three key aspects: 1) the importance of birds for Colombia’s ecosystems, 2) the privileged place of Colombia in bird species richness and 3) the importance of data mobilisation in formats easily consumable by Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to facilitate the processes of informed decision-making. We present the first compilation - in shapefile format - for 1889 of the 1941 bird species recorded from Colombia. Using this novel collection, we showed the species richness of birds in Colombia’s 33 Departments plus its Captial District (DPs), 1122 Municipalities (MNs), 58 protected areas (PAs), 39 Regional Autonomous Corporations (the authorities responsible within their respective jurisdictions for regulating the environment and renewable natural resources in Colombia; CARs) and 916 Collectively Titled Territories (including both indigenous reservations and afro-descendant communities; CTTs). In addition, we provide a list of known bird species richness for the above geographic units found in the available literature. The information provided here can be used as a baseline for a huge number of initiatives concerning the study, conservation and sustainable use of bird species present in Colombia, providing access to key features of bird distribution that should facilitate decision-making.