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Article     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 114(3)

Estimating wildlife population trends: the case of the Helmeted Honeyeater

Jim Hone A

Institute for Applied Ecology, University of Canberra, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia. Email: jim.hone@canberra.edu.au

Emu 114(3) 191-196 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MU13056
Submitted: 28 June 2013  Accepted: 20 December 2013   Published: 7 April 2014

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Assessing trends in wildlife populations involves estimating whether those populations are stable, increasing or decreasing, and trends can infer the success or failure of management. This paper determines trends in a population of critically endangered Helmeted Honeyeaters (Lichenostomus melanops cassidix) in Victoria, Australia, using a range of estimation procedures. Analyses of breeding pairs data show the population of Helmeted Honeyeaters increased, with an annual finite growth rate (λ) of 1.07 (95% confidence intervals 1.02–1.12), over 8 years (1989–90 to 1996–97) then decreased over 12 years (1997–98 to 2008–09) with λ of 0.94 (95% CI 0.91–0.96). Demographic analysis estimated that during the first 8 years λ was 1.21 (95% CI 1.01–1.40), which overlapped the estimate of λ from breeding pairs data but was less precise. There were no demographic data for the later period of 12 years. The number of breeding pairs in 1 year was positively, although only weakly (R2 = 0.23), and significantly (P = 0.03) related to annual rainfall 2 years prior. Wildlife management, such as that of Helmeted Honeyeaters, needs ongoing, quantitative assessment of trends involving measures such as λ, with associated 95% CI.

Additional keywords: conservation, endangered subspecies, finite growth rate, monitoring, population growth rate, trends in abundance.


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