For many bird species, scientists don’t have much information to figure out whether their populations are rising, falling or staying about the same. To get a better sense, researchers turned to a combination of big data and machine learning. Using over 10,000 species for which information was available, their model looked at correlations to predict population trends for the species they didn’t have data for.
They found that almost half of the birds with unknown population trends are declining, likely due to having severely fragmented populations. “I see endless possibilities for conservation biology when artificial intelligence is brought into the picture, and we are still not exploring enough,” said Xuan Zhang, of Bird Ecology and Conservation Ontario, lead author of the study published in Ibis.