Can you predict how a movie will end by looking only at a couple of snapshots from some early scenes? That’s what many ecologists have to do to quickly assess whether an animal population is at risk: they need a method to collect data quickly to predict how animal populations will fare in the future. This is especially difficult with animals that live long lives (like a really long movie!), such as whales, sea turtles, and birds of prey.

Here, we used a mathematical model to examine whether two commonly used snapshot metrics for assessing the health of long-lived eagle populations are reliable. And we are glad we did because we found that they are not reliable. Commonly used measures like how many birds are able to breed and how young birds are when they begin to occupy nests do not accurately predict the status of an eagle population unless they are combined with other data such as the birds’ survival rate or how much food and habitat is available to them.

Share this article

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp
Share on email


Other recommended resources
Related articles from our archives
Additional languages
Only available in English.
Opening video(s)

About this article

Summary of research
Scientists created a mathematical model which allows them to examine whether commonly used metrics for assessing the health of eagle populations are reliable.
Reading level
Scientific field
Key words
NGSS standards
AP Environmental science topics
IB Biology topics
Scientific methods
Type of figure
Location of research
Scientist Affiliation
Publication date
May 2018

Looking for something else?

Wanna know when we publish a new article?

Follow us on social media or subscribe to our monthly newsletter: