It is an axiom in ecology that knowing the sheer number of individuals in a population is of very little help if the objective is to understand future and past changes in population size. Yet, this is exactly how migratory European ducks are monitored, many of which are important quarry species in several countries. We argue that present monitoring is insufficient to address objectives of wise use andsustainabilitysuchasthoseemphasisedinrecentmanagementdirectivesand multilateral international agreements. The two main problems are the almost total lack of reliable data on recruitment and mortality. We advocate a pan-European monitoring system based on undisputed scientific principles; i.e. a long-term, coordinated and standardised scheme that produces data about vital rates of duck populations as well as about harvest size. Data from such a scheme can be used by game biologists to produce predictive tools, thus providing a functional basis for management decisions for adaptive harvesting and conservation alike.
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Vol. 12 • No. 2