• age ratio;
  • bias;
  • differential vulnerability;
  • Missouri;
  • mourning dove;
  • productivity;
  • sex ratio;
  • Zenaida macroura


Intensive harvests have the potential to greatly affect local mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) populations, a popular gamebird and songbird. To evaluate if recruitment was commensurate with harvest, we applied a ratio-based method to estimate local and statewide mourning dove recruitment across 7 public hunting areas in Missouri from 2005 to 2011. We estimated recruitment from preharvest adult sex ratios and harvest age ratios that incorporated various methods to address potential inherent biases (e.g., bias in the adults of unknown sex in preharvest samples, bias in unknown age wings, and local differential vulnerability; DV). Data from 356 radio-marked doves revealed a DV rate, where hatch year doves were, on average 2.7× more likely to be harvested than adult doves. Recruitment estimates for local areas were highly variable and in some cases, biologically unrealistic (e.g., >10 offspring/female), because of small preharvest sample sizes. However, data pooled statewide provided recruitment estimates of 3.1 offspring/female (±0.3 SE) or 4.1 offspring/female (±0.3 SE), assuming samples of unknown sex doves were female biased or male biased, respectively. Although statewide estimates agree with directly observed rates, the sex ratios and differential vulnerability comprising them vary considerably from what has been previously assumed. Whether preharvest sex ratios are biased from trapping methods has 2 important implications; either regional approaches have overestimated recruitment or the number of females in Missouri's population is much less than originally thought. Because each of these scenarios are important to understanding the effects of regional harvest management on Missouri's dove population, they highlight the importance of a better understanding of biases involved in estimating recruitment. © 2012 The Wildlife Society.