Should we account for detectability in population trends?

Stuart E. Newson*, Dario Massimino, Alison Johnston, Stephen R. Baillie, James W. Pearce-Higgins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


CapsuleAccounting for changes in detectability over time which could invalidate population trends for common and widespread breeding birds in the UK, resulted in little change in trends for the majority of species considered.

AimsTo examine whether detectability has a significant influence on population trends for common and widespread breeding birds in the UK.

MethodsUsing data collected over 16 years of the UK Breeding Bird Survey (1994-2009) and focusing on a random sample of 20 common and widespread bird species, we examine the extent to which controlling for temporal change in detectability would influence national population trends.

ResultsPopulation trends were significantly different for only 2 of the 20 species, Common Blackbird and Winter Wren. This difference corresponds to an apparent fall off in detectability of these species between 2005 and 2009. For the remaining species, controlling for detectability resulted in no significant difference in population trends.

ConclusionsThe importance of detectability should be examined as part of any long-term monitoring programme. However, currently we do not find sufficient support for routinely incorporating detectability into population trends for widespread and abundant breeding birds in the UK.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)384-390
Number of pages7
JournalBird Study
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2013




Dive into the research topics of 'Should we account for detectability in population trends?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this