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Integrated Monitoring in Bird Conservation Regions (IMBCR)Monitoring is an essential component of wildlife management and conservation science. Effective monitoring programs can identify species that are at-risk due to small or declining populations, provide an understanding of how management actions affect populations, evaluate population responses to landscape alteration and climate change; and provide basic information on species distributions. Given the large-scale declines of avian populations and the loss, fragmentation and degradation of native habitats, the need for extensive and rigorous landbird monitoring programs is greater than ever.
In 2007 the North American Bird Conservation Initiative developed a report ‘Opportunities for Improving Avian Monitoring’ (NABCI 2007). This report outlined goals and recommendations to further improve avian monitoring programs including: using more rigorous statistical methodology, integrating monitoring programs, and making data and results widely accessible to land managers and the public. With these recommendations in mind, bird conservation partners from across much of the western United States have collaborated to implement a new broad-scale all-lands monitoring program known as “Integrated Monitoring in Bird Conservation Regions” (IMBCR) (Skorkowsky et al., in prep.). The IMBCR design has since updated many long-term monitoring programs such as Monitoring Colorado Birds, Monitoring Wyoming Birds and the Northern Rockies Landbird Monitoring Program.
Objectives of the IMBCR program are to: 1) provide a framework to integrate bird monitoring efforts across bird conservation regions; 2) provide robust population density and occupancy estimates that account for incomplete detection and are comparable at different geographic extents 3) use annual population estimates to monitor population trend and evaluate causes of population change; 4) provide basic habitat association data for most landbird species to address habitat management issues; 5) maintain a high-quality database that is accessible to all of our collaborators as well as to the public over the internet, in the form of raw and summarized data; and 6) generate decision support tools that help guide conservation efforts and provide a quantitative measure of conservation success.
Using the intersection of BCRs and state boundaries as the primary level of stratification, substrata are defined by IMBCR partners based on areas to which inferences are needed, for example, an individual National Forest. Spatially balanced samples are selected within each substratum using a generalized random tessellation stratification algorithm (Stevens and Olsen 2004). This sampling design allows direct comparison of density and occupancy estimates among geographic areas and across spatial scales. Birds are surveyed from a grid of points within each sample unit during a six minute period. Observers record distances to each bird and the 1 minute interval during which each bird was detected. These data are used to estimate occupancy rates at two spatial scales (Pavlacky et al. 2011) and density using distance sampling theory (Buckland et al. 2001).
Integrated Monitoring in Bird Conservation Regions (IMBCR) -