Estimates of shorebird populations in North America

Occasional Paper of the Canadian Wildlife Service 104

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Estimates are presented for the population sizes of 53 species of Nearctic shorebirds occurring regularly in North America, plus four species that breed occasionally. Population estimates range from a few tens to several millions. Overall, population estimates most commonly fall in the range of hundreds of thousands, particularly the low hundreds of thousands; estimated population sizes for large shorebird species currently all fall below 500 000. Population size is inversely related to size (mass) of the species, with a statistically significant negative regression between log(population size) and log(mass). Two outlying groups are evident on the regression graph: one, with populations lower than predicted, includes species considered to be either “at risk” or particularly hard to count, and a second, with populations higher than predicted, includes two species that are hunted. Shorebird population sizes were derived from data obtained by a variety of methods from breeding, migration, and wintering areas, and formal assessments of accuracy of counts or estimates are rarely available. Accurate estimates exist only for a few species that have been the subject of detailed investigation, and the likely accuracy of most estimates is considered poor or low. Population estimates are an integral part of conservation plans being developed for shorebirds in the United States and Canada and may be used to identify areas of key international and regional importance.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Estimates of shorebird populations in North America
Series title:
Occasional Paper of the Canadian Wildlife Service
Series number:
Year Published:
Canadian Wildlife Service
Publisher location:
Ottawa, ON
Contributing office(s):
Alaska Science Center, Fort Collins Science Center, Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center
64 p.
Other Geospatial:
North America