Species richness estimation of bird communities: How to control for sampling effort?

Bruno A. Walther, Jean Louis Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Citations (Scopus)


Since estimates of total species richness increase with sampling effort, methods to control for this sampling effect need to be tested and used. We present seven non-parametric and 12 accumulation curve methods that have been used recently in the ecological literature. To test their performance, we used data from bird communities in the Queen Charlotte Islands, Canada. The performance of each method was evaluated by calculating the bias and precision of its estimates against the known total species richness. For our data set, the two Chao estimators were the overall least biased and most precise estimation methods, followed by the two jackknife estimators, thus supporting results of previous studies. Non-parametric estimators tended to perform better than accumulation curve models. Most estimation methods had the problem that they tended to underestimate species richness for early samples, but slightly overestimated it for late samples. We briefly discuss the practical use of these methods which may greatly increase our ability to answer ecological questions and to guide conservation decisions, especially for species-rich tropical bird communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-419
Number of pages7
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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