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Heterogeneous capture rates in low density populations and consequences for capture-recapture analysis of camera-trap data

Harmsen, Bart J., Foster, Rebecca J. and Doncaster, C. Patrick (2011) Heterogeneous capture rates in low density populations and consequences for capture-recapture analysis of camera-trap data Population Ecology, 53, (1), pp. 253-259. (doi:10.1007/s10144-010-0211-z).

Record type: Article


Closed population capture-recapture analysis of camera-trap data has become the conventional method for estimating the abundance of individually recognisable cryptic species living at low densities, such as large felids. Often these estimates are the only information available to guide wildlife managers and conservation policy. Capture probability of the target species using camera traps is commonly heterogeneous and low. Published studies often report overall capture probabilities as low as 0.03 and fail to report on the level of heterogeneity in capture probability. We used simulations to study the effects of low and heterogeneous capture probability on the reliability of abundance estimates using the Mh jack-knife estimator within a closed-population capture-recapture framework. High heterogeneity in capture probability was associated with under- and over-estimates of true abundance. The use of biased abundance estimates could have serious conservation management consequences. We recommend that studies present capture frequencies of all sampled individuals so that policy makers can assess the reliability of the abundance estimates

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Published date: January 2011
Keywords: abundance estimates, capture probability, closed population model, jaguar, mark-recapture, reliability


Local EPrints ID: 189641
ISSN: 1438-3896
PURE UUID: 543d0527-d045-4486-8522-ed6d0cf79dd9
ORCID for C. Patrick Doncaster: ORCID iD

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Date deposited: 06 Jun 2011 07:41
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 11:39

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Author: Bart J. Harmsen
Author: Rebecca J. Foster

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