Why Monitor Vital Rates
 
Overview
 
Goals and Objectives
 
Recent Results
 
3- & 5-year plans
 
Literature Cited
 
 
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The Institute for Bird Populations
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II. OVERVIEW OF THE MAPS PROGRAM

The Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) program is a cooperative effort among public agencies, private organizations, and individual bird ringers in North America to operate a network of over 500 constant-effort mist netting and ringing stations during the breeding season (DeSante et al. 1995). MAPS was established in 1989 by The Institute for Bird Populations (IBP) and was patterned to a large extent after the British Constant Effort Sites (CES) scheme operated by the British Trust for Ornithology (Baillie et al. 1986, Peach et al. 1996, 1998). MAPS utilizes a standardized constant-effort mist-netting protocol at a network of stations. Each station typically consists of about ten permanent net-sites located opportunistically, but rather uniformly, within the interior eight ha of a 20-ha study area (DeSante et al. 2001a). Typically, one 12-m, 36-mm-mesh mist net is operated at each net site for six morning hours per day, for one day during each of six to ten consecutive 10-day periods. Starting dates vary between May 1 and June 10 (later at more northerly latitudes and higher elevations) and operation continues through the ten-day period ending August 8. All birds captured during the program are identified to species, age, and sex using criteria in Pyle (1997) and, if unmarked, are ringed with a uniquely numbered aluminum ring provided by the U.S. Geological Survey/Biological Resources Division (USGS/BRD) Bird Banding Laboratory or the Canadian Wildlife Service/Bird Banding Office.

Following Peach et al. (1996), productivity indices are calculated as the proportion of young in the catch (number of young individuals captured/total number of aged individuals captured). Annual adult survival rates and adult capture probabilities are estimated from modified Cormack-Jolly-Seber mark-recapture models (Clobert et al. 1987, Pollock et al. 1990, Lebreton et al. 1992) that include a between- and within-year length-of-stay transient model (Pradel et al. 1997, Nott and DeSante in press). These modifications permit estimation of the proportion of residents among newly captured birds and provide survival rate estimates that are unbiased with respect to transient individuals (Pradel et al. 1997).

MAPS protocol (DeSante et al. 2001a) also requires station operators to record the probable breeding status of all avian species seen, heard, or captured at each station on every day of operation using methods similar to those employed in breeding bird atlas projects; and to assign a composite breeding status for every species at the end of the season based on those records. In addition, a station map and standardized quantitative habitat descriptions are prepared each year for each major habitat type contained in the station by means of the MAPS Habitat Structure Assessment protocol (Nott 2000). Finally, MAPS operators are able to enter or import, verify, edit, and submit all their data to IBP by means of MAPSPROG Version 3 (Froehlich et al. 2000, Michel et al. 2000), a specially designed Windows-based computer program distributed free of charge for that purpose by IBP. MAPSPROG has four modules that deal, respectively, with ringing, effort, breeding status, and habitat assessment data. The program includes within- and between-record verification algorithms that substantially improve the quality of the ringing data, particularly age and sex determinations. Importantly, it allows the persons who actually collect the data to also verify and edit them. Moreover, this process can be carried out during the field season, thereby allowing station operators to learn from their errors in a very timely manner.

During its first three years (1989-1991), MAPS was comprised of an IBP-sponsored feasibility study, during which time the program grew from 16 to 66 stations and the protocol became standardized. The Program was endorsed in 1991 by the Monitoring Working Group of the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Initiative, 'Partners in Flight' (PIF), and the Bird Banding Laboratory, and a four-year pilot project (1992-1995) was approved and funded by the U.S. Department of the Interior (USDI) to evaluate the utility and effectiveness of the Program for monitoring demographic parameters of landbirds. During the ensuing four?year pilot study, the program grew from 178 to 391 stations. A general evaluation of the pilot project (DeSante 1996, 2000, DeSante et al. 1999) and an evaluation of the statistical properties of the data (Rosenberg 1996, Rosenberg et al. 1999, 2000) were completed in 1996. A review of the Program and of the evaluations of the pilot project was completed by a panel assembled by USGS/BRD (Geissler 1996). The review concluded that: (1) MAPS is technically sound and is based on the best available biological and statistical methods; (2) it complements other landbird monitoring programs such as the North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) by providing useful information on landbird demographics that is not available elsewhere; and (3) it is the most important project in the nongame bird monitoring arena since the creation of the BBS.

MAPS thus became an "established" monitoring program in 1996 and continued to grow from 424 stations in 1996 to about 507 stations in 2000, the ninth year of standardized operation. The substantial growth of the Program was caused in part by its endorsement by PIF and the involvement of various federal agencies in PIF, including the USDA Forest Service; the USDI National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Land Management; and the USDoD Department of the Navy, Department of the Army, and Texas Army National Guard. During 2000, for example, 151 'agency' stations were operated by IBP personnel under federal contracts. Support for the operation of the remaining 356 'independent' stations (those not operated by IBP personnel) has come from a wide variety of federal, state, and private sources.

I. Why Monitor Vital Rates   III: Goals and Objectives