Rapid assessment in conservation research: a critique of avifaunal assessment techniques illustrated by Ecuadorian and Madagascan case study data

O'Dea, Niall, Watson, James E. M. and Whittaker, Robert J. (2004) Rapid assessment in conservation research: a critique of avifaunal assessment techniques illustrated by Ecuadorian and Madagascan case study data. Diversity and Distributions, 10 1: 55-63. doi:10.1111/j.1472-4642.2004.00050.x


Author O'Dea, Niall
Watson, James E. M.
Whittaker, Robert J.
Title Rapid assessment in conservation research: a critique of avifaunal assessment techniques illustrated by Ecuadorian and Madagascan case study data
Journal name Diversity and Distributions   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1366-9516
1472-4642
Publication date 2004
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
DOI 10.1111/j.1472-4642.2004.00050.x
Open Access Status
Volume 10
Issue 1
Start page 55
End page 63
Total pages 9
Place of publication Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell
Language eng
Abstract The urgency of conservation concerns in the tropics, linked with the limitations imposed on research efforts by the tropical environment has resulted in the development of methods for rapid assessment of biological communities. One such method, the MacKinnon list technique, has been increasingly applied in avifaunal surveys worldwide. Using paired tropical bird data sets from Ecuadorian cloud forest and Madagascan littoral forest, we compare the performance of the MacKinnon list with that of the more standard method of point counts in indicating when a site has been adequately surveyed, estimating the magnitude of species richness, quantifying relative species abundance, and providing an α-index of diversity. In species-rich Ecuadorian cloud forest, neither method produced data indicating adequate survey effort, despite extensive sampling, whereas in the relatively species-poor Madagascan littoral forests, data collected by both methods indicated that the area had been sufficiently surveyed with comparable sampling effort. Species richness estimates generated from MacKinnon list data provided a more accurate estimate of the magnitude of the species richness for the Ecuadorian avifauna, whereas estimates for the Madagascan avifauna stabilised with relatively few samples using either method. Data collected by each method reflected different patterns of relative abundance among the five most abundant species, with MacKinnon list data showing a bias towards solitary and territorial species and against monospecific flocking species relative to the point count data. As a consequence of this bias, MacKinnon list data also fail to reflect accurately the structure of communities as quantified by an index of community evenness. Point counts, on the other hand, failed to capture the full species complement of the species-rich Ecuadorian study area. As techniques for the rapid assessment of unsurveyed areas, both methods are subject to biases that limit their value, if used alone, in collecting data of scientific and management value. We propose a hybrid rapid assessment methodology that capitalises on the strengths of both techniques while compensating for their weaknesses.
Keyword Birds
Community structure
Conservation
Ecuador
MacKinnon lists
Madagascar
Point counts
Rapid assessment
Species richness
Tropical forest
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collection: School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management Publications
 
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Created: Mon, 20 Jul 2015, 12:45:18 EST by Anthony Yeates on behalf of School of Geography, Planning & Env Management