Monitoring low density avian populations: An example using Mountain Plovers

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Declines in avian populations highlight a need for rigorous, broad-scale monitoring programs to document trends in avian populations that occur in low densities across expansive landscapes. Accounting for the spatial variation and variation in detection probability inherent to monitoring programs is thought to be effort-intensive and time-consuming. We determined the feasibility of the analytical method developed by Royle and Nichols (2003), which uses presence-absence (detection-non-detection) field data, to estimate abundance of Mountain Plovers (Charadrius montanus) per sampling unit in agricultural fields, grassland, and prairie dog habitat in eastern Colorado. Field methods were easy to implement and results suggest that the analytical method provides valuable insight into population patterning among habitats. Mountain Plover abundance was highest in prairie dog habitat, slightly lower in agricultural fields, and substantially lower in grassland. These results provided valuable insight to focus future research into Mountain Plover ecology and conservation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)700-706
Number of pages7
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2006


  • Abundance
  • Charadrius montanus
  • Detection probability
  • Estimation
  • Monitoring
  • Mountain Plover


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