I'm trying to describe an event that has affected large numbers out of separate populations. For example: "In the past, oil spills have affected [large numbers out of populations] of birds".

The word that occurred to me was "swaths", but that doesn't appear to be right.

Any suggestions?

  • Why does "swaths" not appear to be right? One could have "swaths of several populations." No other option comes to mind. – Jimi Oke Jan 21 '15 at 21:48
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    Perhaps 'have affected significant proportions of bird populations'? In any case, I would delete 'out' in your original sentence. – Mynamite Jan 21 '15 at 23:42
  • @Mynamite Your first suggestion is good. Check your second. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 21 '15 at 23:44
  • @EdwinAshworth Hmmmm I can't see what's wrong with the second, what am I missing? – Mynamite Jan 21 '15 at 23:50
  • 'Large numbers out of populations': 70% of Population A; 80% of Population B; 75% of Population C. 'Large numbers of populations': 65 different populations. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 22 '15 at 0:02

I don't honestly think you'll do much better than many populations, though you may want to say "...of seabirds". You may want to concentrate on the verb. These populations could be decimated (even though I prefer the historic usage to the modern), heavily/adversely affected, harmed, etc.

The end result could be something like "In the past oil spills have decimated many populations of seabirds".


Perhaps subpopulation (n), a population that is part of a larger population. (vocabulary.com)

M-W dictionary : an identifiable fraction or subdivision of a population.


I guess you could use on of the following expressions in the plural form

GROUP B--These terms are not group names for a particular type of bird, but have been commonly used for many different types:





(source: http://baltimorebirdclub.org/gnlist.html)


"In the past, oil spills have affected "colonies" of birds."
"In the past, oil spills have affected numerous/vast "colonies" of birds."

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    Colonies of birds usually refers to static collections, normally for breeding, so means something wrongly specific. None of the others quite works either, assuming I understand the OP correctly. – Chris H Jan 21 '15 at 20:58

OK, I think understand the problem you’re having. You are trying to adroitly handle 1) the impacts of 2) multiple oil spills 3) on bird populations 4) across multiple species.

Rather than trying to force an ill-fitting suggestion into your bracket field as the sentence stands, I would like to suggest a very slight restructuring of the sentence itself, along with the requested insertion, e.g.,:

In the past, oil spills have [significantly] affected [the populations of numerous bird species]."

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    How does this fill in the bracketed phrase in the OP or answer the question? – SrJoven Jan 22 '15 at 20:46
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    I think you need to put in a bit more explanation of how this reflects what was asked for; I don't see that it does. – Matt Gutting Jan 22 '15 at 20:51
  • "In the past, oil spills have [negatively impacted/affected] [a significant number of/out of populations] of birds [avian species]." Beyond the OP's specific question the whole sentence could be improved. This is my modest attempt to help. :-) – user98990 Jan 22 '15 at 21:00
  • Thank you, @Matt Gutting and SrJoven, you were both understandably dissatisfied. I hope this edit is an improvement on my original answer. :-) – user98990 Jan 23 '15 at 1:33
  • This edit still does not answer the original question. It's not about 1), 2), or 3), it's about presenting a word or (smaller) phrase for large numbers out of populations (something akin to a large percentage of multiple groups). – SrJoven Jan 23 '15 at 9:59

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