Chapter

Modeling Demographic Processes In Marked Populations

Volume 3 of the series Environmental and Ecological Statistics pp 201-235

Inferences About Landbird Abundance from Count Data: Recent Advances and Future Directions

  • James D. NicholsAffiliated withU.S. Geological Survey, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Email author 
  • , Len Thomas
  • , Paul B. Conn

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Abstract

We summarize results of a November 2006 workshop dealing with recent research on the estimation of landbird abundance from count data. Our conceptual framework includes a decomposition of the probability of detecting a bird potentially exposed to sampling efforts into four separate probabilities. Primary inference methods are described and include distance sampling, multiple observers, time of detection, and repeated counts. The detection parameters estimated by these different approaches differ, leading to different interpretations of resulting estimates of density and abundance. Simultaneous use of combinations of these different inference approaches can not only lead to increased precision but also provides the ability to decompose components of the detection process. Recent efforts to test the efficacy of these different approaches using natural systems and a new bird radio test system provide sobering conclusions about the ability of observers to detect and localize birds in auditory surveys. Recent research is reported on efforts to deal with such potential sources of error as bird misclassification, measurement error, and density gradients. Methods for inference about spatial and temporal variation in avian abundance are outlined. Discussion topics include opinions about the need to estimate detection probability when drawing inference about avian abundance, methodological recommendations based on the current state of knowledge and suggestions for future research.