Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
Perspective: Understanding the value of imperfect science from national estimates of bird-window mortality
Machtans, C. S., and W. E. Thogmartin. 2014. Perspective: Understanding the value of imperfect science from national estimates of bird-window mortality. Condor: Ornithological Applications 116:3-7. DOI:10.1650/CONDOR-13-134.1
The publication of a U.S. estimate of bird–window collisions by Loss et al. is an example of the somewhat contentious approach of using extrapolations to obtain large-scale estimates from small-scale studies. We review the approach by Loss et al. and other authors who have published papers on human-induced avian mortality and describe the drawbacks and advantages to publishing what could be considered imperfect science. The main drawback is the inherent and somewhat unquantifiable bias of using small-scale studies to scale up to a national estimate. The direct benefits include development of new methodologies for creating the estimates, an explicit treatment of known biases with acknowledged uncertainty in the final estimate, and the novel results. Other overarching benefits are that these types of papers are catalysts for improving all aspects of the science of estimates and for policies that must respond to the new information.
Estimates, window collisions, mortality