Monitoring wildlife population trends with sample counts: a case study on the Alpine ibex (Capra ibex)
AffiliationUniversity of Chester; Alpine Wildlife Research Centre, Gran Paradiso National Park; University of Zurich
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AbstractMonitoring population dynamics is of fundamental importance in conservation but assessing trends in abundance can be costly, especially in large and rough areas. Obtaining trend estimations from counts performed in only a portion of the total area (sample counts) can be a cost‐effective method to improve the monitoring and conservation of species difficult to count. We tested the effectiveness of sample counts in monitoring population trends of wild animals, using as a model population the Alpine ibex Capra ibex in the Gran Paradiso National Park (Italy), both with computer simulations and using historical count data collected over the last 65 years. Despite sample counts failed to correctly estimate the true population abundance, sampling half of the target area could reliably monitor the trend of the target population. In case of strong changes in abundance, an even lower proportion of the total area could be sufficient to identify the direction of the population trend. However, when there is a high yearly trend variability, the required number of samples increases and even counting in the entire area can be ineffective to detect population trends. The effect of other parameters, such as which portion of the area is sampled and detectability, was lower, but these should be tested case by case. Sample counts could therefore constitute a viable alternative to assess population trends, allowing for important, cost‐effective improvements in the monitoring of wild animals of conservation interest.
CitationPanaccio, M., Brambilla, A., Bassano, B., Smith, T. E., & von Hardenberg, A. (2023). Monitoring wildlife population trends with sample counts: A case study on the Alpine ibex (Capra ibex). Wildlife Biology: A journal for wildlife science, vol(issue), article-number e01162. https://doi.org/10.1002/wlb3.01162
PublisherWiley Open Access
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Licence for VoR version of this article: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/