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Keywords:

  • American black duck;
  • Anas rubripes;
  • breeding population;
  • hierarchical model;
  • plot surveys;
  • transect surveys;
  • trend analysis

Abstract

Waterfowl are monitored in eastern Canada and the northeastern United States with 2 surveys: a transect survey from fixed-wing aircraft and a plot survey conducted from helicopters. The surveys vary in extent, but overlap exists in a core area of 9 strata covering portions of all provinces from Ontario east to Newfoundland. We estimated population change for American black ducks (Anas rubripes) and mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) from these surveys using a log-linear hierarchical model that accommodates differences in sample design and visibility associated with these survey methods. Using a combined analysis of the surveys based on total indicated birds, we estimate the American black duck population to be 901,700 (95% CI: 715,200–1,274,000) in 2011, with 526,900 (95% CI: 357,500–852,300) mallards in the surveyed area. Precision of estimates varies widely by species and region, with transect surveys providing less precise results than plot surveys for black ducks in areas of overlap. The combined survey analysis for black ducks in the eastern survey region produced estimates with an average yearly coefficient of variation (CV) of 12.1% for the entire area and an average CV of 6.9% in the plot survey area. Mallards, which had a more limited distribution in the region, had an average yearly CV of 22.1% over the entire region, and an average CV of 27.7% in the plot survey area. Hierarchical models provide a rich framework for analyzing and combining results from complex survey designs, providing useful spatial and temporal information on population size and change in these economically important species. © 2012 The Wildlife Society.