About the AKN

What is the Avian Knowledge Network?

The Avian Knowledge Network (AKN) is an international organization of government and non-government institutions focused on understanding the patterns and dynamics of bird populations across the Western Hemisphere.

The goal is to educate the public on the dynamics of bird populations, provide interactive decision-making tools for land managers, make available a data resource for scientific research, and advance new exploratory analysis techniques to study bird populations.

The AKN is organizing observation-based bird monitoring in three fundamental ways. First, we are developing new ways to discover these data by displaying metadata in the bird monitoring data registry (BMDR). Second, we are expanding existing data schemas to organize these data through the bird monitoring data exchange (BMDE). Third, we are building the technical infrastructure to allow access to these data through a federated data grid environment. For more information follow the links below.

Download a powerpoint presentation with an overview of the AKN.

Who are we?

Most of the AKN's personnel are at Cornell University. These include researchers and staff at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and faculty and students from Cornell University's Departments of Computer Science and Statistics. Additionally, we have active partnerships with researchers and staff at the Point Reyes Bird Observatory, Redwood Sciences Lab of the United States Forest Service, and Bird Studies Canada.

We coordinate our activities across many bird observation data resources, and provide data to GBIF and ORNIS. Additionally, we are involved in international efforts to develop biodiversity information standards.

Current funding is from the National Science Foundation and includes:

  • SEI+II:Ecological Discovery & Inference: Tools for Data-driven Exploration and Testing of Observational Data.
  • DBI: Multi-Scaled Data in Ecology: Scale Dependent Patterns in the Environment
  • ITR-(ASE+EVS)- (dmc+sim): Tracking Environmental Change through the Data Resources of the Bird-monitoring Community

What kinds of data are available?

The AKN is bringing together observation data on birds. This includes data from bird-monitoring, bird-banding, and broad-scale citizen-based bird-surveillance programs.

All of the observation data are unified within a distributed information architecture that is constantly expanding. All data can be made accessible, and are archived in Cornell University's data management infrastructure.

Additionally, the AKN has gathered over 1300 environmental, climate, and human demographic variables that are linked to all AKN bird observation locations.

What can you do with the data?

You can explore the data resources of the AKN via interactive maps that allow you to view the distribution of bird populations during any time of the year and across all of the Western Hemisphere or within user-defined geographic extents.

You can explore the relationship between birds and the variables that influence their occurrence via data mining techniques that rank variable importance.

You can explore an individual species pattern of distribution or the species richness of a particular location via dynamically generated summary tables and graphs.

Finally, much of the observational data can be directly accessed and downloaded.

How can you contribute?

The AKN is interested in any bird observational data. If you are interested in contributing to the AKN please review how we organize the data resources and the infrastructure requirements necessary. If you have any questions please email Steve Kelling.

We are also looking for examples of how the AKN is being used. If you have developed a data visualization or analysis using the AKN data please tell us!

The AKN is organizing observation-based bird monitoring data for the rapid discovery, access, and analysis of these vast resources. The links on this page provide an organizational overview of the AKN.