Modeling approaches in avian conservation and the role of field biologists

Ornithological Monographs
By: , and 



This review grew out of our realization that models play an increasingly important role in conservation but are rarely used in the research of most avian biologists. Modelers are creating models that are more complex and mechanistic and that can incorporate more of the knowledge acquired by field biologists. Such models require field biologists to provide more specific information, larger sample sizes, and sometimes new kinds of data, such as habitat-specific demography and dispersal information. Field biologists need to support model development by testing key model assumptions and validating models. The best conservation decisions will occur where cooperative interaction enables field biologists, modelers, statisticians, and managers to contribute effectively. We begin by discussing the general form of ecological models—heuristic or mechanistic, "scientific" or statistical—and then highlight the structure, strengths, weaknesses, and applications of six types of models commonly used in avian conservation: (1) deterministic single-population matrix models, (2) stochastic population viability analysis (PVA) models for single populations, (3) metapopulation models, (4) spatially explicit models, (5) genetic models, and (6) species distribution models. We end by considering their unique attributes, determining whether the assumptions that underlie the structure are valid, and testing the ability of the model to predict the future correctly.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Modeling approaches in avian conservation and the role of field biologists
Series title Ornithological Monographs
Volume 59
Year Published 2006
Language English
Publisher University of California Press
Publisher location Berkeley, CA
Contributing office(s) Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center
Description 61 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Ornithological Monographs
First page iii
Last page 56
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