Chapter

Camera Traps in Animal Ecology

pp 191-204

Inference for Occupancy and Occupancy Dynamics

  • Allan F. O’ConnellAffiliated withU.S. Geological Survey, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Email author 
  • , Larissa L. BaileyAffiliated withDepartment of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, Colorado State University

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Abstract

This chapter deals with the estimation of occupancy as a state variable to assess the status of, and track changes in, species distributions when sampling with camera traps. Much of the recent interest in occupancy estimation and modeling originated from the models developed by MacKenzie et al. (2002, 2003), although similar methods were developed independently (Azuma et al. 1990; Bayley and Petersen 2001; Nichols and Karanth, 2002; Tyre et al. 2003), all of which deal with species occurrence information and imperfect detection. Less than a decade after these publications, the modeling and estimation of species occurrence and occupancy dynamics have increased significantly. Special features of scientific journals have explored innovative uses of detection–nondetection data with occupancy models (Vojta 2005), and an entire volume has synthesized the use and application of occupancy estimation methods (MacKenzie et al. 2006). Reviews of the topical concepts, philosophical considerations, and various sampling designs that can be used for occupancy estimation are now readily available for a range of audiences (MacKenzie and Royle 2005; MacKenzie et al. 2006; Bailey et al. 2007; Royle and Dorazio 2008; Conroy and Carroll 2009; Kendall and White 2009; Hines et al. 2010; Link and Barker 2010). As a result, it would be pointless here to recast all that these publications have so eloquently articulated, but that said, a review of any scientific topic requires sufficient context and relevant background information, especially when relatively new methodologies and techniques such as occupancy estimation and camera traps are involved. This is especially critical in a digital age where new information is published at warp speed, making it increasingly difficult to stay abreast of theoretical advances and research developments.