This article was published online in the Plos One journal in November 2016; you can access it in open access through the opposite link.
It shows the importance of historical natralist literature in order to reconstruct the past historical trends of a population, a species or a species community.
Here we reviewed ornithological literature in the Camargue, the largest wetland in France, from 1830 to 2009, and translated historical date into semi-quantitative data.
We found a decrease in average abundance and specialization between 1950 and 1989, suggesting that changes in land-use negatively impacted the structure and composition of the local bird community by reducing species abundance and removing habitat-specialists.
Our results plead for a more regular use of historical naturalist data when examining long-term changes in species communities as they allow the establishment of an older temporal point of reference and consideration of species not covered by traditional monitoring schemes.
Photo: Eurasian scops owl, by Bohuš Číčel – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12769317