Assessing avian richness in remnant wetlands: Towards an improved methodology

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Because the North American Breeding Bird Survey provides inadequate coverage of wetland habitat, the Wetland Breeding Bird Survey was recently established in Ohio, USA. This program relies on volunteers to conduct 3 counts at each monitored wetland. Currently, all counts are conducted during the morning. Under the premise that volunteer participation could be increased by allowing evening counts, we evaluated the potential for modifying the methodology. We evaluated the sampling efficiency of all 3-count combinations of morning and evening counts using data collected at 14 wetlands. Estimates of overall species richness decreased with increasing numbers of evening counts. However, this pattern did not hold when analyses were restricted to wetland-dependent species or those of conservation concern. Our findings suggest that it would be reasonable to permit evening counts, particularly if the data are to be used to monitor wetland-dependent species and those of concern.

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