Reconstructing long-term ecological data from annual census returns: a test for observer bias in counts of bird populations on Skokholm 1928–2002

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticle


Long-term ecological data are essential for conservation and to monitor and evaluate the effects of environmental change. Bird populations have been routinely assessed on islands off the British coast for many years and here long term data for one such island, Skokholm, is evaluated for robustness in the light of some 20 changes in observers (wardens) on the island over nearly eight decades. It was found that the dataset was robust when compared to bootstrap data with no species showing significant changes in abundance in years when wardens changed. It is concluded that the breeding bird populations on Skokholm and other British offshore islands are an important scientific resource and that protocols should be enacted to ensure the archiving of records, the continuance of data collection using standardised protocols into the future, and the recognition of such long-term data for science in terms of an appropriate conservation designation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEcological Indicators
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014



  • Birds
  • assemblage
  • community
  • island biogeography
  • long-term
  • population

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