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2.5 Constant Effort Sites

The Constant Effort Sites (CES) Scheme uses changes in catch sizes across a network of more than 100 standardised mist-netting sites to monitor changes in the abundance and breeding success of common passerines in scrub and wetland habitats. At each constant effort site, licensed ringers erect a series of mist-nets in the same positions, for the same amount of time, during 12 morning visits between May and August. Year-to-year changes in the number of adults caught provide a measure of changing population size, while the proportion of young birds in the total catch is used to monitor annual productivity (breeding success). By monitoring the abundance of young birds between May and August, the CES method should integrate contributions to annual productivity from the entire nesting season including second and third broods for multi-brooded species. Between-year recaptures of ringed birds can also be used to calculate annual survival rates, although this requires specialised analytical techniques (e.g. Peach 1993) and is not considered further here. Further details of the CES Scheme and methods of analysis are presented by Peach et al. 1996.

The CES Scheme began in 1983 with 46 sites and by 2000 had expanded to encompass 144 sites. The distribution of CES sites tends to reflect the distribution of ringers within the UK and Ireland. In 1999, 115 sites were operated in England, 15 in Scotland, 5 in Wales, 5 in Northern Ireland and 4 in the Republic of Ireland. The CES is able to monitor the populations of 28 species of passerines in scrub and wetland habitats.

Data Analysis
Annual estimates of the abundance of adults and young are separately assessed through application of loglinear Poisson regression models, from which fitted year effects are taken as annual relative abundances, compared to an arbitrary value of unity in 2000. 85% confidence limits are based on the corresponding asymptotic standard errors. At sites where catching effort in a year falls below the required 12 visits, but a minimum of 8 are completed, annual catch sizes are corrected according to experience during years with complete coverage (see Peach et al. 1998 for full details). Data from sites with fewer visits in a given year are omitted for the year in question.

Annual indices of productivity (young per pair) are estimated from logistic regression models applied to the proportions of juvenile birds in the catch, the year effects then transformed to measures of productivity relative to an arbitrary value of unity in 2000. As above, catch sizes are corrected for small numbers of visits missed where necessary. It should be noted that these indices are relative, and are not estimates of the actual numbers of young produced per pair. Full methodological details are provided by Freeman et al. in prep.

Data are presented graphically with annual estimates in blue and their 85% confidence limits in green. Methods and software for the optimal fitting of smoothed trends to CES data remain in development. Here, we also present a nonparametric regression model fitted to the calculated annual indices of abundance and productivity (via thin-plate smoothing splines with 5 degrees of freedom), to provide a simple smoothed picture. This is the red smoothed line on the CES graphs on the species pages.

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This report should be cited as:
Baillie, S.R., Crick, H.Q.P., Balmer, D.E., Beaven, L.P., Downie, I.S., Freeman, S.N., Leech, D.I., Marchant, J.H.,
Noble, D.G., Raven, M.J., Simpkin, A.P., Thewlis, R.M. and Wernham, C.V.
(2002) Breeding Birds in the Wider
Countryside: their conservation status 2001. BTO Research Report No. 278. BTO, Thetford. (

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