We now have final datasets from every country in our atlas area. These have all been added to our database, where we now have 142,965 records of 245 species. Draft maps have been prepared for checking and we are now working with our national coordinators and species account authors to review the maps and make corrections. However, we do not expect the maps to change significantly. Some exceptions to this might be the distribution of some cryptic species, where we will try to prepare maps using the most recent information available. The most widely distributed species in Europe is the Red fox Vulpes vulpes, which has been recorded from almost every atlas cell. This is closely followed by the Roe deer Capreolus capreolus, Badger Meles meles, Otter Lutra lutra and Red squirrel Sciurus vulgaris. The species with the most limited occurrence are the Egyptian fruit bat Rousettus aegyptiacus and Tristram’s jird Meriones tristrami, which each occur in only one cell.


There have been several changes to our species list over the 9-year course of our project. Some of these are nomenclatural changes, such as the renaming of the American mink from Mustela vison to Neogale vison, others are taxonomic changes, such as the splitting of one species into two or more. These changes are often the result of genetic investigations into cryptic species complexes, such as the Natterer’s bat Myotis nattereri group, or discovering that an island population is a distinct species, such as Myotis nustrale on Corsica. Our species list currently contains 245 species, but this may yet change!

Species accounts

Each map will be accompanied by a brief account covering phylogenetic relationships, geographic variation, distribution, habitat, population status, international legal & conservation status and other information. These vary in length, as some of the maps include 2, 3 or even 4 species. Altogether, we have more than 180 specialist authors preparing these accounts, the majority of which have now been submitted. The next step is to check and edit all the accounts to make sure they match the maps, include all the right information and fit the style of the atlas. On each page, we will have an accompanying photograph of the species to help the non-specialist identify what is being mapped.


Our first atlas was published using a two-colour process, so we were quite limited in what we could show on the maps. Now, we can map in full colour, so we are proposing to use a relief backdrop, which adds a lot of context to the species information, for example showing that what appears to be a strange distribution is actually closely tied to mountain ranges. We will also be exploring the use of colour in the symbology used to show date-classes or vagrants.

Putting it all together

The atlas steering group will be meeting in Luxembourg in early July to focus on the editing process, which will continue for several months. At the same time, the other parts of the atlas, such as the introduction, species list and so on, will be finalised. There is a lot to do, but we are still intent on meeting our December deadline.