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The reality is that the statistical methods used for analysis of data depend upon the availability of software. Analysis of marked animal data is no different than the rest of the statistical field. The methods used for analysis are those that are available in reliable software packages. Thus, the critical importance of having reliable, up–to–date software available to biologists is obvious. Statisticians have continued to develop more robust models, ever expanding the suite of potential analysis methodsavailable. But without software to implement these newer methods, they will languish in the abstract, and not be applied to the problems deserving them.In the Computers and Software Session, two new software packages...
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I consider modeling avian abundance from spatially referenced bird count data collected according to common protocols such as capture?recapture, multiple observer, removal sampling and simple point counts. Small sample sizes and large numbers of parameters have motivated many analyses that disregard the spatial indexing of the data, and thus do not provide an adequate treatment of spatial structure. I describe a general framework for modeling spatially replicated data that regards local abundance as a random process, motivated by the view that the set of spatially referenced local populations (at the sample locations) constitute a metapopulation. Under this view, attention can be focused on developing a model for...
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The EURING meetings and the scientists who have attended them have contributed substantially to the growth of knowledge in the field of estimating parameters of animal populations. The contributions of David R. Anderson to process modeling, parameter estimation and decision analysis are briefly reviewed. Metrics are considered for assessing individual contributions to a field of inquiry, and it is concluded that Anderson’s contributions have been substantial. Important characteristics of Anderson and his career are the ability to identify and focus on important topics, the premium placed on dissemination of new methods to prospective users, the ability to assemble teams of complementary researchers, and the innovation...
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Multistate mark-recapture methods provide an excellent conceptual framework for considering estimation in studies of marked animals. Traditional methods include the assumptions that (1) each state an animal occupies is observable, and (2) state is assigned correctly at each point in time. Failure of either of these assumptions can lead to biased estimates of demographic parameters. I review design and analysis options for minimizing or eliminating these biases. Unobservable states can be adjusted for by including them in the state space of the statistical model, with zero capture probability, and incorporating the robust design, or observing animals in the unobservable state through telemetry, tag recoveries, or...
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Amphibian life histories are exceedingly sensitive to temperature and precipitation, and there is good evidence that recent climate change has already resulted in a shift to breeding earlier in the year for some species. There are also suggestions that the recent increase in the occurrence of El Niño events has caused declines of anurans in Central America and is linked to elevated mortality of amphibian embryos in the northwestern United States. However, evidence linking amphibian declines in Central America to climate relies solely on correlations, and the mechanisms underlying the declines are not understood. Connections between embryo mortality and declines in abundance have not been demonstrated. Analyses of...
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Demographic studies in plants appear simple because unlike animals, plants do not run away. Plant individuals can be marked with, e.g., plastic tags, but often the coordinates of an individual may be sufficient to identify it. Vascular plants in temperate latitudes have a pronounced seasonal life–cycle, so most plant demographers survey their study plots once a year often during or shortly after flowering. Life–states are pervasive in plants, hence the results of a demographic study for an individual can be summarized in a familiar encounter history, such as 0VFVVF000. A zero means that an individual was not seen in a year and a letter denotes its state for years when it was seen aboveground. V and F here stand...
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Raptor nest–site use in relation to the proximity of coalbed–methane development. Energy development such as coalbed–methane (CBM) extraction is a major land use with largely unknown consequences for many animal species. Some raptor species may be especially vulnerable to habitat changes due to energy development given their ecological requirements and population trajectories. Using 12,977 observations of 3,074 nests of 12 raptor species across nine years (2003–2011) in the Powder River Basin, Wyoming, USA, we evaluated relationships between raptor nest–site use and CBM development. Our objectives were to determine temporal trends in nest–use rates, and whether nest–site use was related to the proximity of CBM development....
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In many monitoring programmes it may be prohibitively expensive to estimate the actual abundance of a bird species in a defined area, particularly at large spatial scales, or where birds occur at very low densities. Often it may be appropriate to consider the proportion of area occupied by the species as an alternative state variable. However, as with abundance estimation, issues of detectability must be taken into account in order to make accurate inferences: the non?detection of the species does not imply the species is genuinely absent. Here we review some recent modelling developments that permit unbiased estimation of the proportion of area occupied, colonization and local extinction probabilities. These methods...
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Increased population survival rate after an episode of seasonal exploitation is considered a type of compensatory population response. Lack of an increase is interpreted as evidence that exploitation results in added annual mortality in the population. Despite its importance to management of exploited species, there are limited statistical techniques for comparing relative support for these two alternative models. For exploited bird species, the most common technique is to use a fixed effect, deterministic ultrastructure model incorporated into band recovery models to estimate the relationship between harvest and survival rate. We present a new likelihood-based technique within a framework that assumes that survival...
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Many species of bird exhibit varying degrees of site-fidelity to the previous year's territory or breeding area, a phenomenon we refer to as incomplete breeding site-fidelity. If the territory they occupy is located beyond the bounds of the study area or search area (i.e., they have emigrated from the study area), the bird will go undetected and is therefore indistinguishable from dead individuals in capture-mark-recapture studies. Differential emigration rates confound inferences regarding differences in survival between sexes and among species if apparent survival rates are used as estimates of true survival. Moreover, the bias introduced by using apparent survival rates for true survival rates can have profound...
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Individual heterogeneity in detection probabilities is a far more serious problem for capture-recapture modeling than has previously been recognized. In this note, I illustrate that population size is not an identifiable parameter under the general closed population mark-recapture model Mh. The problem of identifiability is obvious if the population includes individuals with pi = 0, but persists even when it is assumed that individual detection probabilities are bounded away from zero. Identifiability may be attained within parametric families of distributions for pi, but not among parametric families of distributions. Consequently, in the presence of individual heterogeneity in detection probability, capture-recapture...
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Managers of wildlife populations commonly rely on indirect, count-based measures of the population in making decisions regarding conservation, harvest, or control. The main appeal in the use of such counts is their low material expense compared to methods that directly measure the population. However, their correct use rests on the rarely-tested but often-assumed premise that they proportionately reflect population size, i.e., that they constitute a population index. This study investigates forest management for the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis) and the Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) at the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge in central Georgia, U.S.A. Optimal decision policies for a joint...
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A general computer-intensive method is described for fitting spatial detection functions to capture-recapture data from arrays of passive detectors such as live traps and mist nets. The method is used to estimate the population density of 10 species of breeding birds sampled by mist-netting in deciduous forest at Patuxent Research Refuge, Laurel, Maryland, U.S.A., from 1961 to 1972. Total density (9.9 ? 0.6 ha-1 mean ? SE) appeared to decline over time (slope -0.41 ? 0.15 ha-1y-1). The mean precision of annual estimates for all 10 species pooled was acceptable (CV(D) = 14%). Spatial analysis of closed-population capture-recapture data highlighted deficiencies in non-spatial methodologies. For example, effective...
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Abundance is the state variable of interest in most population–level ecological research and in most programs involving management and conservation of animal populations. Abundance is the single parameter of interest in capture–recapture models for closed populations (e.g., Darroch, 1958; Otis et al., 1978; Chao, 2001). The initial capture–recapture models developed for partially (Darroch, 1959) and completely (Jolly, 1965; Seber, 1965) open populations represented efforts to relax the restrictive assumption of population closure for the purpose of estimating abundance. Subsequent emphases in capture–recapture work were on survival rate estimation in the 1970’s and 1980’s (e.g., Burnham et al., 1987; Lebreton et...
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Reintroduction is a powerful tool in our conservation toolbox. However, the necessary follow-up, i.e. long-term monitoring, is not commonplace and if instituted may lack rigor. We contend that valid monitoring is possible, even with sparse data. We present a means to monitor based on demographic data and a projection model using the Wyoming toad (Bufo baxten) as an example. Using an iterative process, existing data is built upon gradually such that demographic estimates and subsequent inferences increase in reliability. Reintroduction and defensible monitoring may become increasingly relevant as the outlook for amphibians, especially in tropical regions, continues to deteriorate and emergency collection, captive...
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Disease is one of the evolutionary forces shaping populations. Recent studies have shown that epidemics like avian pox, malaria, or mycoplasmosis have affected passerine population dynamics, being responsible for the decline of some populations or disproportionately killing males and larger individuals and thus selecting for specific morphotypes. However, few studies have estimated the effects of an epidemic by following individual birds using the capture-recapture approach. Because avian pox can be diagnosed by direct examination of the birds, we are here able to analyze, using multistate models, the development and consequences of an avian pox epidemic affecting in 1996, a population of Serins (Serinus serinus)...
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The development of sophisticated mark-recapture models over the last four decades has provided fundamental tools for the study of wildlife populations, allowing reliable inference about population sizes and demographic rates based on clearly formulated models for the sampling processes. Mark-recapture models are now routinely described by large numbers of parameters. These large models provide the next challenge to wildlife modelers: the extraction of signal from noise in large collections of parameters. Pattern among parameters can be described by strong, deterministic relations (as in ultrastructural models) but is more flexibly and credibly modeled using weaker, stochastic relations. Trend in survival rates is...
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Headwaters can represent 80% of stream kilometers in a watershed, and they also have unique physical and biological properties that have only recently been recognized for their importance in sustaining healthy functioning stream networks and their ecological services. We sampled 60 headwater tributaries in the South Fork Trinity River, a 2,430 km2, mostly forested, multiple-use watershed in northwestern California. Our objectives were: (1) to differentiate unique headwater types using 69 abiotic and vegetation variables measured at three spatial scales, and then to reduce these to informative subsets; (2) determine if distinct biota occupied the different tributary types; (3) determine the environmental attributes...