Survey methods that account for detection probability often require repeated detections of individual birds or repeated visits to a site to conduct counts or collect presence-absence data. Initial encounters with individual species or individuals of a species could influence detection probabilities for subsequent encounters. For example, observers may be more likely to redetect a species or individual once they are aware of the presence of that species or individual at a particular site. Not accounting for these effects could result in biased estimators of detection probability, abundance, and occupancy. We tested for effects of prior detections in three data sets that differed dramatically by species, geographic location, and method of counting birds. We found strong support (AIC weights from 83% to 100%) for models that allowed for the effects of prior detections. These models produced estimates of detection probability, abundance, and occupancy that differed substantially from those produced by models that ignored the effects of prior detections. We discuss the consequences of the effects of prior detections on estimation for several sampling methods and provide recommendations for avoiding these effects through survey design or by modeling them when they cannot be avoided.
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Vol. 127 • No. 1