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An integrated population model for bird monitoring in North America

April 1, 2017

Integrated population models (IPMs) provide a unified framework for simultaneously analyzing data sets of different types to estimate vital rates, population size, and dynamics; assess contributions of demographic parameters to population changes; and assess population viability. Strengths of an IPM include the ability to estimate latent parameters and improve the precision of parameter estimates. We present a hierarchical IPM that combines two broad‐scale avian monitoring data sets: count data from the North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) and capture–recapture data from the Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) program. These data sets are characterized by large numbers of sample sites and observers, factors capable of inducing error in the sampling and observation processes. The IPM integrates the data sets by modeling the population abundance as a first‐order autoregressive function of the previous year's population abundance and vital rates. BBS counts were modeled as a log‐linear function of the annual index of population abundance, observation effects (observer identity and first survey year), and overdispersion. Vital rates modeled included adult apparent survival, estimated from a transient Cormack‐Jolly‐Seber model using MAPS data, and recruitment (surviving hatched birds from the previous season + dispersing adults) estimated as a latent parameter. An assessment of the IPM demonstrated it could recover true parameter values from 200 simulated data sets. The IPM was applied to data sets (1992–2008) of two bird species, Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) and Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) in the New England/Mid‐Atlantic coastal Bird Conservation Region of the United States. The Gray Catbird population was relatively stable (trend +0.4% per yr), while the Wood Thrush population nearly halved (trend −4.5% per yr) over the 17‐yr study period. IPM estimates of population growth rates, adult survival, and detection and residency probabilities were similar and as precise as estimates from the stand‐alone BBS and CJS models. A benefit of using the IPM was its ability to estimate the latent recruitment parameter. Annual growth rates for both species correlated more with recruitment than survival, and the relationship for Wood Thrush was stronger than for Gray Catbird. The IPM's unified modeling framework facilitates integration of these important data sets.

Publication Year 2017
Title An integrated population model for bird monitoring in North America
DOI 10.1002/eap.1493
Authors Farshid S. Ahrestani, James F. Saracco, John R. Sauer, Keith L. Pardieck, J. Andrew Royle
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecological Applications
Index ID 70199835
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Patuxent Wildlife Research Center