Annual surveys of wildlife populations provide information about annual rates of change in populations but provide no information about when such changes occur. However, by combining data from 2 annual surveys, conducted in different parts of the year, seasonal components of population change can be estimated. We describe a hierarchical model for simultaneous analysis of 2 continent-scale monitoring programs. The Christmas Bird Count is an early winter survey, whereas the North American Breeding Bird Survey is conducted in June. Combining information from these surveys permits estimation of seasonal population variance components and improves estimation of long-term population trends. The composite analysis also controls for survey-specific sampling effects. We applied the model to estimation of population change in northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus). Over the interval 1969?2004, bobwhite populations declined, with trend estimate of -3.56% per year (95% CI = [-3.80%, -3.32%]) in the surveyed portion of their range. Our analysis of seasonal population variance components indicated that northern bobwhite populations changed more in the winter and spring portion of the year than in the summer and fall portion of the year.
Additional publication details
Combining Breeding Bird Survey and Christmas Bird Count data to evaluate seasonal components of population change in Northern Bobwhite