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1 November 2008 Assessing Landbird Monitoring Programs and Demographic Causes of Population Trends
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Population trend data from the North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) have been used to identify conservation priorities and justify major conservation initiatives. Yet the BBS has been criticized for potential habitat bias and reliance on abundance indices to estimate trends. We compared 1992–2003 BBS trend estimates to trend estimates derived from bird-banding data collected as part of the Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) program for 36 wood warbler species. Similarity in trends between the 2 monitoring programs at the survey-wide and program-wide scales suggested that each program can provide accurate trend information. The MAPS program, however, was designed primarily to complement (rather than duplicate) count-based efforts, such as the BBS, by providing estimates or indices of demographic rates. Demographic data from MAPS can be used to lend insight into proximate (demographic) causes of population trends and inform management. We illustrate this with analyses of 1992–2003 MAPS data for yellow warbler (Dendroica petechia). We used reverse-time capture–recapture models to evaluate importance of new recruits (including immigrating adults and young from the previous year) relative to surviving adults in explaining variation in trend among BBS physiographic strata. We included the number of young per adult captured (an index of productivity) as a covariate in models to assess effects of productivity on trends. Survival was the key demographic driver of recent population trends. Comparison of MAPS productivity indices and adult apparent survival rate estimates to BBS trend estimates largely confirmed this inference. We suggest that increased MAPS coverage, better coordination between MAPS and the BBS, and continued development of analytical methods that link the 2 programs will enhance the value of these monitoring efforts to land managers and conservation planners working at a variety of spatial scales.

James F. Saracco, David F. Desante, and Danielle R. Kaschube "Assessing Landbird Monitoring Programs and Demographic Causes of Population Trends," Journal of Wildlife Management 72(8), 1665-1673, (1 November 2008).
Published: 1 November 2008

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