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Population Ecology

, Volume 54, Issue 1, pp 43–54 | Cite as

Evaluating the potential biases in carnivore capture–recapture studies associated with the use of lure and varying density estimation techniques using photographic-sampling data of the Malagasy civet

  • Brian D. Gerber
  • Sarah M. Karpanty
  • Marcella J. Kelly
Original Article

Abstract

Estimating density of elusive carnivores with capture–recapture analyses is increasingly common. However, providing unbiased and precise estimates is still a challenge due to uncertainties arising from the use of (1) bait or lure to attract animals to the detection device and (2) ad hoc boundary-strip methods to compensate for edge effects in area estimation. We used photographic-sampling data of the Malagasy civet Fossa fossana collected with and without lure to assess the effects of lure and to compare the use of four density estimators which varied in methods of area estimation. The use of lure did not affect permanent immigration or emigration, abundance and density estimation, maximum movement distances, or temporal activity patterns of Malagasy civets, but did provide more precise population estimates by increasing the number of recaptures. The spatially-explicit capture–recapture (SECR) model density estimates ±SE were the least precise as they incorporate spatial variation, but consistent with each other (Maximum likelihood-SECR = 1.38 ± 0.18, Bayesian-SECR = 1.24 ± 0.17 civets/km2), whereas estimates relying on boundary-strip methods to estimate effective trapping area did not incorporate spatial variation, varied greatly and were generally larger than SECR model estimates. Estimating carnivore density with ad hoc boundary-strip methods can lead to overestimation and/or increased uncertainty as they do not incorporate spatial variation. This may lead to inaction or poor management decisions which may jeopardize at-risk populations. In contrast, SECR models free researchers from making subjective decisions associated with boundary-strip methods and they estimate density directly, providing more comparable and valuable population estimates.

Keywords

Baiting Buffer Luring MMDM Population Spatially-explicit 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Funding was provided by Virginia Tech, National Geographic Society Committee on Research and Exploration, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, Sigma Xi Master’s Degree and Grants-in-Aid Awards, and the Burd Sheldon McGinnes Graduate Fellowship. We thank Madagascar National Parks and Direction des Eaux et Forêts for permission to conduct this research. We were assisted by ICTE/MICET, Centre ValBio, J. Randrianantenaina, D. Andrianoely, B. Marine, M. Kotschwar, C. Latimer, J.C. Razafimahaimodison, K. Bannar-Martin, D. Stauffer, J. Cohen, Z. Farris and J. Ivan. We thank M. Ridout for providing the R code to analyze temporal activity. Comments from two anonymous reviewers and M. Efford helped us greatly improve upon earlier drafts.

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Copyright information

© The Society of Population Ecology and Springer 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian D. Gerber
    • 1
  • Sarah M. Karpanty
    • 1
  • Marcella J. Kelly
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Fish and Wildlife ConservationVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA

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