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28 May 2014 Using patch occupancy models to estimate area of crevice-nesting seabird colonies
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Crevice-nesting seabirds are notoriously difficult to monitor. We present a survey design and analysis that estimates both colony area and geographic extent, using indirect evidence to determine whether a cell is “occupied.” The approach is to define a grid of cells across potential habitat and randomly sample small plots within each cell, surveying for signs of occupancy. Visiting ≥1 plot cell−1 provides a basis for mapping geographic extent. Occupancy models are used to estimate colony area, probability of detection for an occupied cell, and standard errors for all estimated parameters (allowing for statistical comparisons across surveys or colonies). We estimated the area of a colony of Least Auklets (Aethia pusilla) and Crested Auklets (A. cristatella) on Segula Island, Aleutian Archipelago, Alaska, in 2006, and use this as an example of how to adapt the survey design to the logistical constraints common in seabird colony surveys. Surveying only a handful of sample plots of ∼16 m2 in each ∼2,500-m2 cell in the grid was adequate to estimate the detection bias from spatial subsampling, correcting a >50% underestimate of colony area due to plots without evidence having been interpreted as unoccupied cells.

© 2014 Cooper Ornithological Society.
Joel H. Reynolds and Heather M. Renner "Using patch occupancy models to estimate area of crevice-nesting seabird colonies," The Condor 116(3), 316-324, (28 May 2014).
Received: 30 March 2014; Accepted: 1 March 2014; Published: 28 May 2014

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