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The Institute for Bird Populations
© 2009


Major Programs

The Institute for Bird Populations pursues avian research and conservation through 7 major programs:

  • The MAPS Program - Monitoring avian productivity and survivorship throughout N. America at over 500 banding stations.
  • IBP's Sierra Nevada Bird Observatory - efforts to study, monitor, and conserve bird populations in California's Sierra Nevada mountain range.
  • Avian Inventory Program - collecting baseline information on avian diversity, distribution, and abundance on public lands.
  • The MoSI program - A network of mist-netting stations operated during the non-breeding season in Mexico and Central America to identify and understand landbirds' habitat needs during the winter.
  • Tropical MAPS (TMAPS) - Monitoring vital rates of resident birds in the tropics.
  • Burrowing Owl research and conservation - providing the scientific basis for development of a conservation strategy for this declining species in California.
  • Bird Populations Journal - a peer-reviewed annual journal of global avian research and monitoring.

Each of these projects is briefly outlined on this page; you can also click on the project name above to read about them in detail.

The MAPS Program

Created in 1989 and coordinated by The Institute for Bird Populations, MAPS is a cooperative effort among public agencies, private organizations, and individual bird banders across North America to operate a continent-wide network of now over 500 constant-effort mist netting stations for the long-term monitoring of the vital rates of more than 100 landbird species. These critical data are being used in conjunction with avian population trend data, station-specific and landscape-level habitat data, and spatially explicit weather data to formulate management actions and conservation strategies to reverse population declines in both year-round resident and migratory landbirds.

IBP's Sierra Nevada Bird Observatory

IBP's Sierra Nevada Bird Observatory comprises an array of projects that focus on studying, monitoring, and conserving birds throughout the Sierra Nevada region, often in partnership with government agencies such as the US Forest Service and the National Park Service. Particular areas of emphasis include determining the effects of land management practices on Sierra bird populations and community dynamics, identifying management practices most compatible with maintaining viable bird populations and diverse bird communities, and understanding and mitigating the effects of climate change.

Avian Inventory Program

Gathering baseline information on existing biological resources is a critical step in the formulation of long-term monitoring strategies. To help decide how to best allocate scarce resouces to avian monitoring efforts, land managers often require detailed information about the current diversity, distribution, and abundance of birds that depend on the lands they manage. Accordingly, IBP has established its Avian Inventory Program, which assists biologists and land managers overseeing national parks and other public lands by designing and implementing scientifcally sound avian inventory and monitoring projects.

The MoSI Program

Analyses of IBP's MAPS data suggest that population declines in some species of Neotropical migratory landbirds may be caused more by low survival on their wintering grounds or during migration than by low productivity. Further results indicate that even their productivity is driven more by weather on their wintering grounds prior to spring migration than by weather on their breeding grounds. Broad-scale, long-term data on habitat-specific annual and overwintering survival rates and late winter physical condition of migratory and resident Neotropical birds are needed to formulate effective management strategies for reversing population declines and maintaining stable populations. To address these needs, IBP and partners across the northern Neotropics established the MoSI (Monitoreo de Sobrevivencia Invernal) Program, a cooperative network of banding stations operated using standardized protocols during the winter months.

Tropical MAPS (TMAPS)

In addition to the MoSI Program, IBP facilitates the implementation of a TMAPS (Tropical Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) Program in tropical regions. Because of extended and non-synchronous breeding seasons for many species in the tropics, protocols are likely to differ from the standardized MAPS protocol in use in the United States and Canada. Experimental TMAPS stations are currently being operated on Saipan and Puerto Rico. The impetus for both MoSI and TMAPS arose from an IBP project on Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from 1998 to 2002 aimed at studying vital rates of resident and migratory birds in 3 major habitat types on the installation.

Burrowing Owl Research and Conservation

Established in 1996 in response to The Institute's 1991-1993 survey of breeding Burrowing Owls in California, this project aims to provide a scientific basis for the development of a state-wide conservation strategy for this declining species. Objectives include determining habitat-specific productivity, adult survival rates and population density from nest-monitoring and mark-resighting studies; estimating home range size and post-fledging survival and dispersal rates from radio-telemetry; determining contaminant loads from toxicological sampling; and involving the public in outreach activities to foster support and appreciation for the species and for conservation efforts in general.

Bird Populations Journal

First published in 1993, Bird Populations fills a major gap in the scientific literature, as no other technical publication is dedicated to the study of dynamic avian demography and biogeography from a global perspective. This annual publication carries peer-reviewed papers of original research, reports from major avian monitoring projects around the world, and review, synthesis and commentary articles.