We examined the use of data from the North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) for assessments of ecological condition using an avian community-based indicator, the Bird Community Index (BCI). In previous research, the BCI was developed and applied to a random sample of sites in the Mid-Atlantic Highlands. The goal of providing national scale assessments with bird community indicators hinges on a demonstration that existing monitoring programs, like the BBS, can be tapped as source data for the indicators. Our goal was to compare a BBS-based assessment of the Mid-Atlantic Highlands to our original assessment based on random sampling locations. We subsampled three iterations of BBS route data from the study area to account for spatial and temporal scale differences between 40 km BBS routes and the original 1 km transects sampled to develop the BCI. All three iterations of BBS subsamples provided lower overall assessments of ecological condition for the Mid-Atlantic Highlands relative to our original research. Land cover analysis, however, revealed that BBS routes sampled land cover types in proportion to their actual prevalence in the region. Thus, we conclude that BBS data are appropriate as source data for broad scale ecological assessments with indicators such as the BCI. For numerous analytical and logistical reasons, we recommend 10-stop subsamples of BBS data as the preferred scale at which to apply bird community indicators of ecological condition.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Decision Sciences(all)
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics