A comparison of certain methods of measuring ranges of small mammals

Journal of Mammalogy

See also: This week?s Citation Classic: 'Stickel, L. F. A comparison of certain methods of measuring ranges of small mammals. J. Mammalogy 35: 1-15, 1954.' Current Contents (Agriculture, Biology & Environmental Sciences) 17(50): 18, December 15, 1986. This paper has been cited in over 150 publications since 1955.



SUMMARY: A comparison is made of different methods of determining size of home range from grid trapping data. Studies of artificial populations show that a boundary strip method of measuring area and an adjusted range length give sizes closer to the true range than do minimum area or observed range length methods. In simulated trapping of artificial populations, the known range size increases with successive captures until a level is reached that approximates the true range. The same general pattern is followed whether traps are visited at random or traps nearer the center of the range are favored; but when central traps are favored the curve levels more slowly. Range size is revealed with fewer captures when traps are far apart than when they are close together. The curve levels more slowly for oblong ranges than for circular ranges of the same area. Fewer captures are required to determine range length than to determine range area. Other examples of simulated trapping in artificial populations are used to provide measurements of distances from the center of activity and distances between successive captures. These are compared with similar measurements taken from Peromyscus trapping data. The similarity of range sizes found in certain field comparisons of area trapping, colored scat collections, and trailing is cited. A comparison of home range data obtained by area trapping and nest box studies is discussed. It is shown that when traps are set too far apart to include two or more in the range of each animal, calculation of average range size gives biased results. The smaller ranges are not expressed and cannot be included in the averages. The result is that range estimates are smaller at closer spacings and greater at wider spacings, purely as a result of these erroneous calculations and not reflecting any varying behavior of the animals. The problem of variation in apparent home range with variation in trap spacing is considered further by trapping in an artificial population. It is found that trap spacing can alter the apparent size of range even when biological factors are excluded and trap visiting is random. The desirability of excluding travels outside the normal range from home range calculations is discussed. Effects of varying the trapping plan by setting alternate rows of traps, or setting two traps per site, are discussed briefly.

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A comparison of certain methods of measuring ranges of small mammals
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Journal of Mammalogy
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Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
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Journal of Mammalogy
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