Marbled Murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus) are threatened seabirds that nest in coastal old-growth coniferous forests throughout much of their breeding range. Currently, observer-based audio-visual surveys are conducted at inland forest sites during the breeding season primarily to determine nesting distribution and breeding status and are being used to estimate temporal or spatial trends in murrelet detections. Our goal was to assess the feasibility of using audio-visual survey data for such monitoring. We used an intensive field-based survey effort to record daily murrelet detections at seven survey stations in the Oregon Coast Range. We then used computer-aided resampling techniques to assess the effectiveness of twelve survey strategies with varying scheduling and a sampling intensity of 4-14 surveys per breeding season to estimate known means and SDs of murrelet detections. Most survey strategies we tested failed to provide estimates of detection means and SDs that were within A?20% of actual means and SDs. Estimates of daily detections were, however, frequently estimated to within A?50% of field data with sampling efforts of 14 days/breeding season. Additional resampling analyses with statistically generated detection data indicated that the temporal variability in detection data had a great effect on the reliability of the mean and SD estimates calculated from the twelve survey strategies, while the value of the mean had little effect. Effectiveness at estimating multi-year trends in detection data was similarly poor, indicating that audio-visual surveys might be reliably used to estimate annual declines in murrelet detections of the order of 50% per year.
Additional publication details
Using resampling to assess reliability of audio-visual survey strategies for marbled murrelets at inland forest sites