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Data from: A comparison of breeding population estimators using nest and brood monitoring data

Cite this dataset

Baasch, David M.; Hefley, Trevor J.; Cahis, Staci D. (2016). Data from: A comparison of breeding population estimators using nest and brood monitoring data [Dataset]. Dryad.


For many species, breeding population size is an important metric for assessing population status. A variety of simple methods are often used to estimate this metric for ground-nesting birds that nest in open habitats (e.g., beaches, riverine sandbars). The error and bias associated with estimates derived using these methods vary in relation to differing monitoring intensities and detection rates. However, these errors and biases are often difficult to obtain, poorly understood, and largely unreported. A method was developed to estimate the number of breeding pairs using counts of nests and broods from monitoring data where multiple surveys were made throughout a single breeding season (breeding pair estimator; BPE). The BPE method was compared to two commonly used estimation methods using simulated data from an individual-based model that allowed for the comparison of biases and accuracy. The BPE method underestimated the number of breeding pairs, but generally performed better than the other two commonly used methods when detection rates were low and monitoring frequency was high. As detection rates and time between surveys increased, the maximum nest and brood count method performs similar to the BPE. The BPE was compared to four commonly used methods to estimate breeding pairs for empirically derived data sets on the Platte River. Based on our simulated data, we expect our BPE to be closest to the true number of breeding pairs as compared to other methods. The methods tested resulted in substantially different estimates of the numbers of breeding pairs; however, coefficients from trend analyses were not statistically different. When data from multiple nest and brood surveys are available, the BPE appears to result in reasonably precise estimates of numbers of breeding pairs. Regardless of the estimation method, investigators are encouraged to acknowledge whether the method employed is likely to over- or underestimate breeding pairs. This study provides a means to recognize the potential biases in breeding pair estimates.

Usage notes


Platte River