The Common Loon (Gavia immer) is a State Species of Concern in Washington. The species was once thought to be fairly common in both eastern and western Washington, but likely declined in the early decades of the 20th Century. Planning conservation efforts for the species is complicated by lack of information on the abundance and distribution of the species in Washington.
With this project, we aim to provide the State of Washington with information necessary to conduct effective, efficient, and affordable surveys for the species in the State. The project will involve 3 components: 1) understanding factors influencing site occupancy of loons in the State, based on existing State survey data as well as citizen science (eBird) data; 2) pilot testing a drone-based sampling method to determine detection probabilities as a function of effort; and 3) using information from components 1 and 2 to design a sampling strategy (including sampling methods and strata) and conduct a simulation study that will describe expected precision in occupancy estimates as a function of sampling effort and spatial coverage.