Avian Conservation Assessment Database Process

The Partners in Flight (PIF) Avian Conservation Assessment Database (ACAD) is the repository for biological information and scores used and generated by the PIF species assessment process, a peer-reviewed, scientific methodology for analyzing, evaluating, and categorizing information related to the conservation of birds. The PIF assessment process dovetails with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species by identifying species of both high and moderate conservation concern at continental and regional scales, in addition to species of high stewardship responsibility. The PIF assessment further uses the concept of regional stewardship responsibility to focus conservation actions geographically in areas of core populations for vulnerable species.

The PIF process evaluates six biological vulnerability factors for each species: Population Size (PS), Breeding Distribution (BD), Non-breeding Distribution (ND), Threats to Breeding (TB), Threats to Non-breeding (TN), and Population Trend (PT). PS, BD and ND are evaluated globally, whereas TB, TN and PT are evaluated at continental and regional scales. Area Importance (AI) is assessed seasonally within each region using Percent of Population (%Pop) during breeding, winter and migration; Relative Density (RD) is no longer used. Based on carefully defined thresholds, each factor is assigned a score ranging from 1 (to reflect very low concern or importance) to 5 (to reflect the highest concern or importance). The factor scores for each species are combined in different ways to classify species of concern or stewardship responsibility and produce various lists, such as the PIF Watch List.

The PIF assessment process makes use of the best available data to assign scores for each category, however the process can also be applied using equivalent qualitative thresholds. In addition to various published sources of information, the PIF assessment makes extensive use of data from the North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS), particularly for assessing PT and PS. It increasingly makes use of eBird data as well, particularly to estimate %pop and score AI. Where population data are lacking, surrogate data on land cover trends combined with expert knowledge are used to help assess population trends and threats.

The PIF species assessment process, including all recent updates to the methodology, is described in full detail in the 2024 version of the Avian Conservation Assessment Database Handbook. Any user of the PIF Database should have a copy of this document on hand, which clarifies all aspects of the database and the processes in developing and using the species assessment scores.