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Integrated population models (IPMs)

The development of new statistical models allows to study the demography and dynamics of bird populations and to understand the causes of population fluctuations

Population trends depend on how many individuals survive, how many are born, how many immigrate and how many emigrate. Integrated population models jointly analyse multiple types of data (e.g. population counts, capture-recapture data, breeding success data). The result is more accurate estimates of demographic processes and a deeper understanding of the causes of population change. The development of such models is of fundamental interest at the interface between population ecology and statistics, and is crucial for diagnosing the causes of declines in rare species.

Domain Research
Unit Population Biology
Topic Ecology, Population Development
Habitat alpine habitats, farmland, forest, meadows and pastures, rivers & streams, rocky terrain, semi-open farmland, settlements, wasteland, wetlands
Project start 2006
Project status ongoing
Project management Michael Schaub
Project region Switzerland, Europe


Project objectives

The aim of the project is to develop and test integrated population models (IPM) and apply them to case studies of selected species in order to better understand their population trends. We aim to gain knowledge both in basic research at the interface of population ecology and statistical sciences, and in the application of the models to selected species, e.g. to optimise conservation measures. We also want to transfer our knowledge and experience of IPMs to other researchers.


We develop new integrated population models, test them with simulated data and apply them in case studies. In addition to our own data, we use and analyse data from other researchers in collaborative projects. We share our knowledge of the theory and practice of this powerful class of models with researchers around the world through scientific articles, textbooks and workshops.


Integrated population models were developed around the year 2000 and have become indispensable in today’s empirical analysis of population dynamics. They are complex statistical models and their application requires special expertise. The Swiss Ornithological Institute has become a centre of excellence for integrated population models and has gained many important insights into the functioning of bird populations.


In 2022, all the research on integrated population models was summarised in the world’s first textbook on the topic. Numerous case studies of different species have been published in the scientific literature. One important finding is that bird populations are often strongly influenced by immigration and emigration, as birds are highly dispersing. This finding is important for conservation because it shows that the spatial units to be protected must be large enough to be independent of processes in neighbouring populations.

Project partner(s)

Financial support



Species concerned

Bearded Vulture
Black Grouse
Common Tern
Northern Goshawk
Red-backed Shrike
Barn Swallow
Woodchat Shrike
Red Kite
Little Owl
Collared Sand Martin
Peregrine Falcon
White-throated Dipper
Eurasian Wryneck
Common Hoopoe
Other resources
IPM Book
New textbook on Integrated Population Models
Wie synchron entwickeln sich Rauchschwalbenbestände (in German)
Geringe Produktion führt zu Bestandsrückgang (in German)
Fehlende Zuwanderung führt zum Aussterben (in German)
Population Biology link

Population Biology

We study the populations and distribution of species and species communities, as well as the factors that cause their changes across space and time.

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