Densities of individually marked migrants away from the marking site to estimate population sizes: A test with three wader populations

Bernard Spaans*, Laurens Van Kooten, Jenny Cremer, Jutta Leyrer, Theunis Piersma

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Capsule Population estimates based on the mark-resighting method can be a useful alternative to population-wide counts.

Aims To investigate whether the mark-resighting method can be used as an alternative to counts to estimate the size of wader populations.

Methods Individual colour-marking and subsequent resightings allowed accurate estimates of annual survival for three populations of waders, on which basis we could estimate the actual number of marked birds alive. Densities of marked birds were determined on sites away (2000-4300 km) from the ringing locations expecting marked birds to be randomly distributed among non-marked conspecifics. Population sizes are estimated by combining these densities with the number of marked birds alive.

Results We found indications that the distribution of marked birds was indeed random in the locations away from the site of marking. The estimated population size of Red Knot Calidris canutus canutus was in accordance with the most recent estimates based on counts. Our estimate of the Calidris c. islandica population was somewhat lower, and that of the Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica taymyrensis population was considerably lower than the latest estimates based on counts.

Conclusion Population estimates based on the mark-resighting method can be a useful alternative for, or addition to, population-wide counts, as long as the assumption of random distribution of marked birds at the reading sites is taken into account. We conclude that the Afro-Siberian Bar-tailed Godwit population has recently decreased in size or has been substantially overestimated during the counts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-140
Number of pages11
JournalBird Study
Volume58
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Keywords

  • KNOTS CALIDRIS-CANUTUS
  • BAR-TAILED GODWITS
  • WADDEN SEA
  • MIGRATION STRATEGIES
  • ENERGY MINIMIZERS
  • SPRING MIGRATION
  • LIMOSA-LAPPONICA
  • TIME MINIMIZERS
  • BANC-DARGUIN
  • HABITAT USE

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