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Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Species traits explain variation in detectability of UK birds. Bird Study, Volume 61, Issue 3, 2014

Species traits explain variation in detectability of UK birds

Bird Study

Volume 61, Issue 3, 2014

Species traits explain variation in detectability of UK birds

Alison Johnston, Stuart E. Newson, Kate Risely, Andy J. Musgrove, Dario Massimino, Stephen R. Baillie, James W. Pearce-Higgins
pages 340-350

Received: 27 Apr 2014
Accepted: 30 Jun 2014
Published online: 08 Aug 2014

LINK to pdf file

Heterogeneous detectability amongst species may impact multi-species bird surveys and if not accounted for, may bias community level conclusions. Estimates of detectability were produced for 195 UK bird species, and detectability was significantly affected by bird size, diet and habitat specialization.

To estimate detectability and understand which species traits may impact detectability.

We estimated the detectability of 195 species of birds in the UK using distance sampling methods and examined the average detectability of genetically related groups. We tested the significance of species traits in describing variation in detectability, whilst controlling for phylogenetic relationships.

Passeriformes had the lowest median detectability of 0.37 and Charadriiformes the highest median detectability of 0.65, of the seven largest orders considered. Species most associated with closed habitats such as woodland and urban areas had the lowest detectability. Smaller species had lower detectability than larger species.

Heterogeneity in species detectability could lead to biased conclusions, particularly when calculating multi-species indices such as species richness or diversity. Accounting for detectability will be most important in studies that cover a wide range of habitat types or a diverse spread of taxa.


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