Experimental evaluation of spatial capture–recapture study design
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A principal challenge impeding strong inference in analyses of wild populations is the lack of robust and long-term data sets. Recent advancements in analytical tools used in wildlife science may increase our ability to integrate smaller data sets and enhance the statistical power of population estimates. One such advancement, the development of spatial capture-recapture (SCR) methods, explicitly accounts for differences in spatial study designs, making it possible to equate multiple study designs in one analysis. SCR has been shown to be robust to variation in design as long as minimal sampling guidance is adhered to. However, these expectations are based on simulation and have yet to be evaluated in wild populations. Here we conduct a rigorously designed field experiment by manipulating the arrangement of artificial cover objects (ACOs) used to collect data on red-backed salamanders (Plethodon cinereus) to empirically evaluate the effects of design configuration on inference made using SCR. Our results suggest that, using SCR, estimates of space use and detectability are sensitive to study design configuration, namely the spacing and extent of the array, and that caution is warranted when assigning biological interpretation to these parameters. However, estimates of population density remain robust to design except when the configuration of detectors grossly violates existing recommendations.
Fleming , J , Grant , E H C , Sterrett , S C & Sutherland , C 2021 , ' Experimental evaluation of spatial capture–recapture study design ' , Ecological Applications , vol. Early View , e02419 . https://doi.org/10.1002/eap.2419
Copyright © 2021 by the Ecological Society of America. This article has been contributed to by US Government employees and their work is in the public domain in the USA. This work has been made available online in accordance with publisher policies or with permission. Permission for further reuse of this content should be sought from the publisher or the rights holder. This is the final published version of the work, which was originally published at https://doi.org/10.1002/eap.2419.
DescriptionThis research was funded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, accession 1009581. This is a contribution of the Salamander Population and Adaptation Network (SPARCnet) and contribution #767 of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative (ARMI).
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