Wetland use by waterbirds is highly dependent on water depth, and depth requirements generally vary among species. Furthermore, water depth within wetlands often varies greatly over time due to unpredictable hydrological events, making comparisons of waterbird abundance among wetlands difficult as effects of habitat variables and water depth are confounded. Species-specific relationships between bird abundance and water depth necessarily are non-linear; thus, we developed a methodology to correct waterbird abundance for variation in water depth, based on the non-parametric regression of these two variables. Accordingly, we used the difference between observed and predicted abundances from non-parametric regression (analogous to parametric residuals) as an estimate of bird abundance at equivalent water depths. We scaled this difference to levels of observed and predicted abundances using the formula: ((observed - predicted abundance)/(observed + predicted abundance)) ?? 100. This estimate also corresponds to the observed:predicted abundance ratio, which allows easy interpretation of results. We illustrated this methodology using two hypothetical species that differed in water depth and wetland preferences. Comparisons of wetlands, using both observed and relative corrected abundances, indicated that relative corrected abundance adequately separates the effect of water depth from the effect of wetlands. ?? 2008 Elsevier B.V.
Additional publication details
Monitoring waterbird abundance in wetlands: The importance of controlling results for variation in water depth