Open Access Repository

Changes in technology and imperfect detection of nest contents impedes reliable estimates of population trends in burrowing seabirds

Lavers, JL ORCID: 0000-0001-7596-6588, Hutton, I and Bond, AL 2019 , 'Changes in technology and imperfect detection of nest contents impedes reliable estimates of population trends in burrowing seabirds' , Global Ecology and Conservation, vol. 17 , pp. 1-8 , doi:

131127 - Change...pdf | Download (944kB)

| Preview


One of the most fundamental aspects of conservation biology is understanding trends in the abundanceof species and populations. This influences conservation interventions, threat abatement, andmanagement by implicitly or explicitly setting targets for favourable conservation states, such as anincreasing or stable population. Burrow-nesting seabirds present many challenges for determiningabundance reliably, which is further hampered by variability in the quality of previous surveys. We usedburrow scopes to determine the population status of Flesh-footed Shearwaters (Ardenna carneipes) attheir largest colony on Lord Howe Island, Australia, in 2018. We estimated a breeding population of22,654 breeding pairs (95% CI: 8159-37,909). Comparing burrow scope models used in 2018 found morethan half of burrow contents (20/36 burrows examined) were classified differently. If this detectionprobability is applied retroactively to surveys in 2002 and 2009, we estimate that the Flesh-footedShearwater population on Lord Howe has decreased by up to 50% in the last decade, but uncertaintyaround previous surveys’ ability to reliably determine burrow contents means a direct comparison is notpossible. The decline in burrow density between 2018 and previous years adds further evidence that thepopulation may not be stable. Our results highlight a need for regular surveys to quantify detectionprobability so that as video technology advances, previous population estimates remain comparable.We urge caution when comparing population counts of burrowing seabirds using different technologies,to ensure comparisons are meaningful.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Lavers, JL and Hutton, I and Bond, AL
Keywords: seabird ecology, breeding success, imperfect detection
Journal or Publication Title: Global Ecology and Conservation
Publisher: Elsevier Science Bv
ISSN: 2351-9894
DOI / ID Number:
Copyright Information:

© 2019 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

Related URLs:
Item Statistics: View statistics for this item

Actions (login required)

Item Control Page Item Control Page