Introduction

This website is intended to complement Oiseaux de Mauritanie - Birds of Mauritania (Isenmann et al. 2010) of which I am a co-author. The purpose is to make publicly available bird species distribution maps for Mauritania. They have been produced from point records supplied by collaborators listed in the Sources section, augmented by records derived from the literature. The maps show with half-degree squares where each species has been observed in Mauritania. Green indicates at least one record of the species at any time of the year, blue indicates evidence of wintering of Holarctic migrants and red the location of breeding evidence. This half-degree resolution was chosen because of the sparse coverage across the country. It corresponds to the resolution used in bird atlases for other desert regions, e.g., Arabia (Jennings 1996-2004) and Botswana (Harrison 1997).

As will be observed, the maps, even for the commonest species, provide very incomplete coverage of the country. Many squares have no records and are blank. Predicted distributions from models based on the values of environmental variables at the observation points and the geographic distribution of these variables provide a possible method of filling these blanks (e.g., Walther et al 2007 and Wisz et al 2007). Since such models are independent of political boundaries, they can be extended into neighbouring countries to take advantage of additional observations that are available, thus increasing their reliability. Collaborators may recall from correspondence with me that I had hoped to produce such maps. So far this has not been possible because of lack of access to adequate environmental data. While trying to overcome this barrier I thought it worthwhile to create an Atlas of conventional (grid-based) style to put to good use the records that have kindly been supplied.

The two maps on the Index page show the distributions of a representative species from each of the two areas of Mauritania where most birds are found: the coast (Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus) and the Sahel (White-throated Bee-Eater Merops albicollis).

Peter Browne, Ottawa, Canada