Solving the challenges of monitoring mobile populations: insights from studies of waterbirds in southern Africa

Thomas, Hannah L., Hockey, Philip A.R., and Cumming, Graeme S. (2015) Solving the challenges of monitoring mobile populations: insights from studies of waterbirds in southern Africa. Ostrich, 86 (1-2). pp. 169-178.

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Highly mobile species are difficult to monitor. It is often unclear from abundance estimates whether a population is genuinely declining or simply elsewhere. If the spatial and temporal scales of monitoring are inadequate, the data will only be useful if the signal is very strong (i.e. the change in population size is large). We explored the ability of three major databases – the Southern African Bird Atlas Project (SABAP), the Coordinated Waterbird Counts (CWAC) and the South African Bird Ringing Unit (SAFRING) – to reveal the movement patterns of a highly mobile African waterbird, the Red-billed Teal Anas erythrorhyncha. Only ring recovery data provided clear evidence of long-distance movement. All three data sets were compromised to varying degrees by methodological biases and spatial and/or temporal resolutions that prevented the detection of movement patterns. By incorporating abundance estimates, increasing and quantifying sampling effort, and extending coverage at the data collection stage, the potential for these data sets to contribute to our understanding of bird movements could be greatly improved. Monitoring programmes for mobile species must be tested at an early stage to assess their ability to explain spatial and temporal population variation at the scales at which such variation occurs.

Item ID: 40826
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1727-947X
Keywords: Anas erythrorhyncha, atlas data, count data, CWAC, population monitoring, Red-billed Teal, ring recoveries, SABAP, scale, southern Africa, spatiotemporal variation
Funders: National Research Foundation of South Africa (NRF), Wildlife Conservation Society
Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2015 04:54
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050104 Landscape Ecology @ 30%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 33%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050199 Ecological Applications not elsewhere classified @ 34%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960501 Ecosystem Assessment and Management at Regional or Larger Scales @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 50%
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