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Call for UAE mammals data.

A key issue in ecology and conservation biology is to determine how species are distributed. Knowledge of the conservation status of a species is dependent to a very large extent on the availability of data on sightings.

In the United Arab Emirates, much of the data relating to the country's mammals, both native and introduced, has been published over the years. More is to be found in personal records while there is a lack of an organised system to allow for the reporting of individual records. As a result, work on the status of individual species has adversely affected by the inability to obtain access to such records.

In the UAE, the most comprehensive wildlife database available relates to birds. Most observations of birds throughout the country by visiting and resident birdwatchers, both professional scientists and amateurs, have now been incorporated into a single database maintained and regularly updated by Tommy Pedersen, on behalf of the Emirates Bird Records Committee. The database goes back to the 1970s, with further historical records, from the 1980s and 1990s, being added.

The value of such comprehensive and easily accessible data has been clearly demonstrated; numerous conservation studies or assessments of individual species, by both local and international researchers and institutions have benefited.

No such easily-accessible database exists so far in the UAE for other taxa. Data and observations are spread among different individuals, institutions, only some of which has been published or is accessible. Other records have been lost or their existence has been forgotten.

The writer now plans to start co-ordinating all available data on mammals, whether current or historical data, using Wildlife Recorder, the same database structure used for bird recording.

The first part of the work will be to populate the database with new records while trying, at the same time, to add all published historical data that can be located. This work has already been initiated for the Bat fauna of UAE. Achieving a comprehensive and more or less exhaustive UAE Mammals database will take time, but there is an obvious need to do it, if an efficient conservation strategy of mammal species in the UAE is to be possible.

All type of data are welcomed (single observations or data files, in Excel sheet, word document...)

Records can be sent directly to Jacky Judas or may be posted on the UAE Mammals thread of the UAE Birding Forum:

To ensure their value, all observations should include at least the following information: species, date, location (as accurate as possible, and ideally geographical coordinates expressed as latitude and longitude), number of individuals observed, observers' name and contact details. Any additional comments on the conditions of observations, species identification process, habitat, behaviour, sex and age ratio will eventually provide more value to the record. Observers' name will always been kept in the database. I t should be noted, however, that by provision of their data, observers accept that their records will be freely available to be used for conservation and research purposes.

All mammal species are of interest, including both native species and non-native introduced species. With raising concern on the impact of non-native and potentially invasive species on natural habitats and ecosystem balance, it becomes increasingly important to get access to quantitative information on species occurrence, including not only their presence, but also details of abundance, distribution and trends. All feral species, like goats, donkeys, dogs and cats, (the latter outside urban areas), or introduced species, commensal or not, such as mice, rats and squirrels (or more exotic ones), are important to report, to keep tracks on their population dynamics and successful naturalisation, if any, for non-domestic species.

Jacky Judas

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Author:Judas, Jacky
Article Type:Column
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Jan 1, 2016
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