Quantifying productivity of bird populations often involves calculating nest success from samples of nests found during a breeding season. Female reproductive output (annual or lifetime) is important to demographic modeling of birds, but nest success is a poor metric to compare productivity among areas or populations. Based on preliminary review, we hypothesized that avian literature poorly distinguishes annual reproductive success from nest success regardless of species' breeding strategies, and that the influence of renesting and multiple brooding on avian productivity is infrequently recognized. We investigated the reporting of nest success, annual reproductive success, renesting, and multiple brooding in 356 articles across 81 journal-years for nine journals that frequently publish ornithological literature. We found 54% of 356 articles reporting productivity estimators used variations of nest success. However, only 10% of articles reported estimates of annual reproductive output. We found that 28% of articles reported the breeding strategy of the species studied, and 47% acknowledged renesting or multi-brooded species. There was no temporal increase in acknowledgment of species' breeding strategy, renesting, or multi-brooding. Our review indicated little distinction between nest success and annual reproductive success. To accurately support conservation evaluations, we believe use of nest success in assessing avian productivity must be critically examined.
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Vol. 72 • No. 4