We studied a population of Cooper's hawks (Accipiter cooperii) in Tucson, Arizona from 1994 to 2005. High rates of mortality of nestlings from an urban-related disease prompted speculation that the area represented an ecological trap and habitat sink for Cooper's hawks. In this paper, we used estimates of survival and productivity from 11years of monitoring to develop an estimate of the rate of population change, ??, for Cooper's hawks in the area. We used a Cormack-Jolly-Seber approach to estimate survival of breeding hawks, and a stochastic, stage-based matrix to estimate ??. Despite the urban-related disease, the estimate of ?? indicated that the area does not function as a habitat sink for Cooper's hawks (?? = 1.11 ?? 0.047; P = 0.0073 for the null of ?? 1). Because data required to reliably identify habitat sinks are extensive and difficult to acquire, we suggest that the concept of habitat sinks be applied cautiously until substantiated with reliable empirical evidence. ?? 2008 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.
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Identifying habitat sinks: A case study of Cooper's hawks in an urban environment