Long-term bird-banding programs provide knowledge of the demographic rates of avian populations, but we currently lack information on demographic rates of most bird populations in species-rich tropical ecosystems. Banding in tropical regions is typically conducted with protracted or irregular sampling occasions that make the choice of the proper capture—mark—recapture (CMR) model difficult. Here, we address common challenges related to collecting and analyzing data to estimate survival rates of resident Neotropical birds using 20 years of banding efforts in Mexico as a case study. We applied Cormack-Jolly-Seber and Barker models to estimate apparent survival and recapture probabilities of species with sufficient data for survival analyses. We were able to analyze 6 resident species of 136 total species; apparent survival probabilities ranged from 0.30 to 0.77, and recapture probabilities from 0.11 to 0.52. For monitoring programs with existing data collected at continuous, uneven, or irregular intervals, we recommend the application of the Barker model over other models because it was more efficient in the use of available banding data and less often violated CMR assumptions. We recommend that monitoring programs last >10 years and provide additional protocol suggestions for primary and secondary sampling occasions, as well as the number of nets, potential net configurations, and the extent of the spatial scale. These baseline recommendations are likely to foster an increase in our knowledge of avian survival rates in tropical ecosystems, which is imperative for managing tropical bird populations under changing environmental conditions.
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Vol. 129 • No. 3