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Hitchhikers’ guide to analysing bird ringing data Part 1: data cleaning, preparation and exploratory analyses
Bird ringing datasets constitute possibly the largest source of temporal and spatial information on vertebrate taxa available on the globe. Initially, the method was invented to understand avian migration patterns. However, data deriving from bird ringing has been used in an array of other disciplines including population monitoring, changes in demography, conservation management and to study the effects of climate change to name a few. Despite the widespread usage and importance, there are no guidelines available specifically describing the practice of data management, preparation and analyses of ringing datasets. Here, we present the first of a series of comprehensive tutorials that may help fill this gap. We describe in detail and through a real-life example the intricacies of data cleaning and how to create a data table ready for analyses from raw ringing data in the R software environment. Moreover, we created and present here the R package; ringR, designed to carry out various specific tasks and plots related to bird ringing data. Most methods described here can also be applied to a wide range of capture-recapture type data based on individual marking, regardless to taxa or research question.