Patterns and processes in shorebird survival rates: a global review

Verónica Méndez, José A. Alves, Jennifer A. Gill, Tómas G. Gunnarsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


Changes in demographic rates underpin changes in population size, and understanding demographic rates can greatly aid the design and development of strategies to maintain populations in the face of environmental changes. However, acquiring estimates of demographic parameters at relevant spatial scales is difficult. Measures of annual survival rates can be particularly challenging to obtain because large-scale, long-term tracking of individuals is difficult and the resulting data contain many inherent biases. In recent years, advances in both tracking and analytical techniques have meant that, for some taxonomic groups, sufficient numbers of survival estimates are available to allow variation within and among species to be explored. Here we review published estimates of annual adult survival rates in shorebird species across the globe, and construct models to explore the phylogenetic, geographical, seasonal and sex-based variation in survival rates. Models of 295 survival estimates from 56 species show that survival rates calculated from recoveries of dead individuals or from return rates of marked individuals are significantly lower than estimates from mark–recapture models. Survival rates also vary across flyways, largely as a consequence of differences in the genera that have been studied and the analytical methods used, with published estimates from the Americas and from smaller shorebirds (Actitis, Calidris and Charadrius spp.) tending to be underestimated. By incorporating the analytical method used to generate each estimate within a mixed model framework, we provide method-corrected species-specific and genus-specific adult annual survival estimates for 52 species of 15 genera.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)723-741
Number of pages19
Issue number4
Early online date7 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


  • demography
  • global flyways
  • mark–recapture
  • recovery models
  • return rates
  • waders

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