Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: North Carolina
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

North Carolina Project

Incorporating estimates of detection probability into the Breeding Bird Survey protocol: Assessment of current sampling methods

September 2006 - December 2011


Participating Agencies

  • USGS Status and Trends Program

The goal of this research is to evaluate the relative costs and benefits of incorporating different methods of estimating detection probability into the Breeding Bird Survey protocol. Researchers propose to implement this assessment within the operational framework of the BBS through close collaboration with national BBS coordinator, Keith Pardieck, North Carolina BBS coordinator, Mark Johns, and numerous North Carolina BBS volunteers who have participated in our detection probability experiments over the past three years. 1) Researchers propose to sample a minimum of 50 of the approximately 80 North Carolina BBS routes over three consecutive breeding seasons. 2) They will compare results derived from unadjusted unlimited-radius counts with those derived from counts adjusted for detection probability using, multiple observer, time of detection, distance sampling, and repeated count methods. 3) They will provide BBS program managers with practical recommendations about the relative costs (personnel, sampling effort, training) and benefits (bias reduction) of incorporating different measures of detection probability into the BBS protocol. They anticipate that this research will provide field biologists and natural resource managers with a clearer understanding of the bias and precision of current point count sampling methods. The primary products will include measures of uncertainty associated with current point count methodologies and an assessment of the improvements expected if additional information needed to estimate detection probabilities is collected. Benefits will include new applications of theory and sampling methodologies that will result in practical improvements in the quality and scientific credibility of Breeding Bird Survey census data. Subject to the availability of additional funding, anticipated follow-on products include training workshops for practitioners and monitoring program managers, and a monograph synthesizing the results of detection probability experiments and providing recommended sampling protocols for specific research, monitoring, and management objectives