Evaluating the Design of the Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey

Science Center Objects

The Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey (WBPHS) is a primary source of waterfowl population status and trend information for management of ducks in North America.  The survey has not been reviewed in several decades, and since the last review new analysis approaches and information needs have created a need to reassess the design, scope of inference, and analysis of the survey to ensure that it efficiently meets current information needs for waterfowl management.  In the study, we will review the current distributions of priority waterfowl species relative to the scope of the WBPHS, suggest changes to strata and sample allocations to better cover species distributions, develop a comprehensive analytical approach for the WBPHS, and analyze historical data using new analytical approaches.

The Challenge: The Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey (WBPHS) is the primary source of waterfowl population status information for management of ducks in North America (US Fish and Wildlife Service 2018a). It is organized and implemented primarily by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) with assistance from many cooperating state and provincial agencies.  WBPHS results from the basis of waterfowl management in North America.  However, in recent years, dramatic changes have occurred in waterfowl populations, data needs and analytical approaches.   Patuxent scientists, in collaboration with FWS scientists and managers, are reviewing the design and analysis of this important survey to ensure that it efficiently meets current management information needs

The Science: We will evaluate coverage of target populations of waterfowl species of management interest,  recommend revisions to spatial extent and temporal period of WBPHS for sampling the current (and predicted future) ranges of priority species, evaluate present strata and consider revisions in strata to better conform to current waterfowl distributions and physiographic strata, evaluate present sample frame and define alternative sample allocations based on current waterfowl abundance data, and define and implement multispecies objective functions and optimize design for alternative design scenarios.

The Future: This project has 2 phases: An initial phase focuses on geographic analyses of breeding distributions of priority species in relation to the sampling frame of the current WBPHS.  After defining sampled and target populations for priority species, recommendations will be made for expansion or reallocation of WBPHS sample units to improve sampling of target species.   The second phase of the project will focus on statistical aspects of analysis, design, and optimization.  A comprehensive analytical framework will be developed for summary of population sizes for the traditional and Eastern WBPHS area.