Check out this new paper from one of the lab member’s undergraduate thesis.
The Importance of Survey Timing on Shorebird Density Estimates at East Bay, Nunavut, Canada
Abstract: Accurate estimates of population size and trends are often necessary for wildlife conservation, but imperfect and variable rates of detection can lead to substantially biased counts during surveys. The influence of survey timing relative to timing of breeding on the counts recorded for five shorebird species during transect surveys at East Bay, Nunavut, Canada, from 2000 to 2010 was examined. Transect counts varied widely among species and years, and transect counts were most strongly predicted by the density of nests found during more intensive surveys. However, after accounting for this variation, survey counts were influenced substantially by survey timing. Surveys carried out shortly after the median date of nest initiation (~2 days after) corresponded most closely to the densities of found nests, and if surveys were not within several days of the median date, the discrepancy between the two estimates was large. Although neither nest densities nor transect surveys are believed to be a perfect indication of local population status, these results suggest that the nearly inevitable variation in survey timing could introduce substantial bias into density estimates.