Use of miniroutes and Breeding Bird Survey data to estimate abundance

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1. Information on relative abundance is easily obtained and adds greatly to the value of an atlas project. 2. The Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) provides annual counts (birds per 50 roadside stops) that can be used to: (1) map relative abundance by physiographic region within a state or province, (2) map relative abundance on a more local scale by using results from individual routes, or (3) compute estimates of total state populations of a species. Where BBS coverage is too scanty to permit mapping, extra temporary routes may be established to provide additional information for the atlas. Or, if continuing coverage is anticipated, additional permanent random routes can be assigned by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 3. Miniroutes of 15 or more stops can be established in individual atlas blocks to serve the dual purposes of providing efficient uniform coverage and providing information on relative abundance. Miniroutes can also be extracted from BBS routes to supplement special atlas coverage, or vice versa; but the data from the BBS will not be confined to individual atlas blocks. 4. Advantages of 15- or 20-stop Miniroutes over 25-stop Miniroutes are several: the ability to do two per morning and the lower variability among M1niroute results. Also, many 5-km atlas blocks do not have enough secondary roads to accommodate 25 stops at one-half mile intervals. Disadvantages of 15-stop Miniroutes starting at sunrise are the smaller numbers of birds recorded, missing of the very productive dawn chorus period (Robbins 1981), and missing crepuscular species (rails, woodcock, owls, and goatsuckers). 5. Advantages of recording counts of individuals rather than checking only species presence at Miniroute stops are that: (1) relative abundance can be mapped rather than frequency only (a measure of frequency is already available in the number of blocks recording each species); (2) population change can be measured over a period of years when the next atlas is made; and (3) comparative abundance data are available for habitat correlations and other statistical applications (Luis et ale 1983). Disadvantages of recording counts are that: (1) many observers do not feel they can make accurate counts of individuals; and (2) a few species may be missed while observers are counting (an hypothesis that will be field-tested this summer). While counts of individuals may be more subject to observer differences than are frequency counts, both the numbers of birds and their frequencies are available when birds are counted. 6. Roadside counts produce slightly larger samples and more species than off-road counts. The main advantage of off-road coverage is to sample habitats that cannot be sampled from roadsides. 7. Miniroutes can be recommended to individual atlasers as an efficient means of detecting species and upgrading them from Possible to Probable, even when there is no statewide Miniroute program.

Additional publication details

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Use of miniroutes and Breeding Bird Survey data to estimate abundance
Year Published 1986
Language English
Publisher Laboratory of Ornithology, Cornell University
Publisher location Ithaca, New York
Contributing office(s) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description 192
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Other Government Series
Larger Work Title Proceedings of the Second Northeastern Breeding Bird Atlas Conference
First page 28
Last page 40
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