Optimal sampling frequency and timing of threatened tropical bird populations: A modeling approach

John E. Banks, H.T. Banks, Kristen Rinnovatore, Colin Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Conservation of threatened or endangered species relies critically on accurate population counts over time. In practice, many population censuses are conducted by non-governmental organizations or volunteer citizen scientists who are constrained by fiscal and temporal resources. Less than optimal sampling regimens (characterized by infrequent and/or irregular schedules) for conducting population censuses can result in woefully misleading population estimates – and thus have dire consequences for management and conservation. We illustrate this using an East African case study in which 14 years of bird data was collected in the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest in coastal Kenya. We first estimate life history parameters in a discrete matrix model. Desiring a data collection protocol which would lessen observation error and lend to a deeper understanding of population projections and dynamics of a threatened species, we carry out mathematical and statistical modeling efforts with an adaptation of a Leslie model for simulated population estimates stemming from different population sampling schemes. We illustrate how resource managers might take a strategic approach, using simple quantitative models, to develop an optimal sampling scheme that considers important species traits, such as breeding season, and balances the tradeoff between resources and accuracy.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalEcological Modelling
StatePublished - 2015


  • Arabuko-Sokoke Forest; Inverse problem; Kenya; Least squares optimization; Leslie matrix; Sheppardia gunningi


  • Life Sciences
  • Biology
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Environmental Sciences

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