National Park Service

Sonoran Desert I&M Network (SODN)


Landbirds graphic

Monitoring Briefs

Monitoring Reports

Monitoring Protocol

Bird Checklists



Landbirds are a conspicuous component of many ecosystems. They have high body temperatures, rapid metabolisms, and occupy high trophic levels. Because they can respond quickly to changes in resource conditions, landbirds are considered good indicatorsof ecosystem health. In other words, changes in landbird populations may indicate changes in the biotic or abiotic components of the environment upon which they depend. Relative to other vertebrates, landbirds are also highly detectable and can be efficiently surveyed with the use of numerous standardized methods.

Parks Monitored

All 11 Sonoran Desert Network parks.

Monitoring Objectives

  • Estimate the proportion of points occupied for most species in most parks.
  • Estimate parameters related to community dynamics.
  • Estimate the density of the most-common species.

Potential Measures

  • Occupancy, a measure of presence or absence of a species in space that indicates changes in the distribution of a species when evaluated across time.
  • Species richness and composition of native communities of concern, and the changes occurring within and among these communities.
  • Annual density of the most-common species in larger SODN parks.

Management Applications

Bird monitoring data can be used to ascertain the overall natural condition of SODN parks, and can provide insights into the potential consequences of stressors and current and proposed management actions.

Protocol Status

This protocol has completed four seasons of pilot testing and internal review. SODN began monitoring birds in spring 2007; this effort is now part of a collaboration among the Southern Plains, Sonoran Desert, and Chihuahuan Desert networks, with data collection and data management provided by the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory.

Status & Trends

Status data are discussed in annual monitoring reports and briefs (see above). Insufficient data have been collected to date for trend determination.

Project Cooperators

Project Contacts

Andy Hubbard, SODN Program Manager
Robert Bennetts, Southern Plains Network Program Manager

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Last Updated: December 30, 2016 Contact Webmaster