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The Mystery of the Disappearing Seabirds: Using Science to Protect Caribbean Seabirds Mackin, William, Ann Sutton, Margo Zdravkovic, Lisa Sorenson, and Scott Johnson.. BirdsCaribbean, 8 Jul 2016. Experiment. doi: 10.18258/7359
We will join Conservian's survey project for the Northern Bahamas. We have a database of every island where seabirds have nested in the region. We will survey those sites sites between them. When accessible colonies are found, we will use mist nets, dip nets, and other traps to capture adults, band, and release them. We will use field readable bands so the birds can be identified by spotting scope when encountered in the future. Mark and recapture analysis can be used to estimate survival, recapture, and frequency of movement among colonies. This year, the goal is to survey as many colonies as possible and to mark and release at least ten birds within each colony without disrupting nesting.
The greatest challenge lies in capturing adults of these species. We will overcome this challenge by bringing multiple capture devices and reaching out to experts on capturing each of the species to discuss multiple techniques that have worked for them without disrupting nesting.
We will analyze the data using a multistate model. This model accounts for birds that disappear from a sight but do not die, including emmigrants and birds that skip nesting. For a multistate mark-recapture model to work, we need to band and release dozens to about 100 individuals of each species. It is crucial that we catch a large proportion of the individuals in each colony and that our recapture effort in future years will find the birds if they are present.
If we cannot capture enough individuals of a particular species, we might adapt the study by focusing on the species we can catch effectively and waiting to band elusive species using a new protocol in the future.
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