Monitoring survival rates of landbirds at varying spatial scales: An application of the MAPS Program

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Edited by:
Rick Bonney, David N. Pashley, Robert Cooper, Larry Niles


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Survivorship is a primary demographic parameter affecting population dynamics, and thus trends in species abundance. The Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) program is a cooperative effort designed to monitor landbird demographic parameters. A principle goal of MAPS is to estimate annual survivorship and identify spatial patterns and temporal trends in these rates. We evaluated hypotheses of spatial patterns in survival rates among a collection of neighboring sampling sites, such as within national forests, among biogeographic provinces, and between breeding populations that winter in either Central or South America, and compared these geographic-specific models to a model of a common survival rate among all sampling sites. We used data collected during 1992-1995 from Swainson's Thrush (Cathorus ustulatus) populations in the western region of the United States. We evaluated the ability to detect spatial and temporal patterns of survivorship with simulated data. We found weak evidence of spatial differences in survival rates at the local scale of 'location,' which typically contained 3 mist-netting stations. There was little evidence of differences in survival rates among biogeographic provinces or between populations that winter in either Central or South America. When data were pooled for a regional estimate of survivorship, the percent relative bias due to pooling 'locations' was <1%. With the pooled data, we estimated a 44% annual regional survival rate; this low estimated survival rate was likely due to the presence of transients in the population (Rosenberg and others 1999). Using simulated data, we found that power to detect spatial differences increased considerably with number of years and spatial scale, the latter reflecting larger sample size. Detection of trends at smaller spatial scales required > 12 years of monitoring. Detection of spatial patterns and temporal trends in survival rates from local to regional scales will provide important information for management and future research directed toward conservation of landbirds.

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Publication type:
Book chapter
Publication Subtype:
Book Chapter
Monitoring survival rates of landbirds at varying spatial scales: An application of the MAPS Program
Year Published:
U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station
Publisher location:
Ogden, UT
Contributing office(s):
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
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Other Government Series
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