Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

The continuing lack of ornithological research capacity in almost all of West Africa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access Status

  • Embargoed (until 20/12/18)


West Africa has high bird diversity and is a crucial non-breeding area for over one-third of European breeding species, yet local capacity for ornithological research and so targeted bird conservation is perceived to be limited. I reviewed all the published literature on Web of Science classified as “ornithology” with accompanying key word of a country’s name, over the last three decades, from the 16 countries within West Africa and compared them to 16 Western European countries. Inclusion of the country’s name as a search term identified any papers produced by local authors, and so should provide an index of local ornithological capacity. Overall only 129 papers were produced from 1987 – 2016 with West African authors (range 0 Burkina Faso to 45 Nigeria), significantly fewer compared to 12,380 with European authors (range 71 Greece to 2,745 England). The number of papers produced increased significantly at similar rates over the three decade period in both continents. The number of papers produced by local authors in West Africa and Europe approximately doubled each decade, but variation between countries was large, particularly in West Africa. The results are broadly the same when paper output is adjusted for the population of each country. Of the three West African countries that showed a consistent increase in numbers of locally authored ornithological papers only Nigeria showed a highly significant increase and this increase was down to a single ornithological research institute established there in 2002. The results confirm that there is little local ornithological capacity in West Africa and this is not changing except in Nigeria, where even a single new research institute can make a significant difference because of the very low baseline.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-129
Number of pages7
Issue number2
Early online date20 Dec 2017
StatePublished - 2018

    Research areas

  • Capacity building, Conservation capacity, Research capacity

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Weak breeding seasonality of a songbird in a seasonally arid tropical environment arises from individual flexibility and strongly seasonal moult

    Nwaogu, C. J., Tieleman, B. I. & Cresswell, W. 22 Sep 2018 In : Ibis. Early View, 13 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Temperature and aridity determine body size conformity to Bergmann’s rule independent of latitudinal differences in a tropical environment

    Nwaogu, C. J., Tieleman, B. I., Bitrus, K. & Cresswell, W. R. L. 27 Jun 2018 In : Journal of Ornithology. First Online, 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Spring migration strategies of Whinchat Saxicola rubetra when successfully crossing potential barriers of the Sahara and the Mediterranean Sea

    Blackburn, E., Burgess, M., Freeman, B., Risely, A., Izang, A., Ivande, S., Hewson, C. & Cresswell, W. 2 May 2018 In : Ibis. Early View

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Population consequences of migratory variability differ between flyways

    Patchett, R., Finch, T. & Cresswell, W. 23 Apr 2018 In : Current Biology. 28, 8, p. R340-R341

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Managing human disturbance: factors influencing flight-initiation distance of birds in a West African nature reserve

    Braimoh, B., Iwajomo, S., Wilson, M., Chaskda, A., Ajang, A. & Cresswell, W. 2018 In : Ostrich. 89, 1, p. 59-69 11 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Survival rates in West African savanna birds

    Stevens, M. C., Ottosson, U., McGregor, R. M., Brandt, M. & Cresswell, W. 2013 In : Ostrich. 84, 1, p. 11-25

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Ostrich (Journal)

    Cresswell, W. (Reviewer)
    10 Nov 2017

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workPeer review of manuscripts

ID: 251052214