Determination of the relative abundance of two populations, separated by time or space, is of interest in many ecological situations. We focus on two estimators of relative abundance, which assume that the probability that an individual is detected at least once in the survey is either equal or unequal for the two populations. We present three methods for incorporating the collected information into our inference. The first method, proposed previously, is a traditional hypothesis test for evidence that detection probabilities are unequal. However, we feel that, a priori, it is more likely that detection probabilities are actually different; hence, the burden of proof should be shifted, requiring evidence that detection probabilities are practically equivalent. The second method we present, equivalence testing, is one approach to doing so. Third, we suggest that model averaging could be used by combining the two estimators according to derived model weights. These differing approaches are applied to a mark-recapture experiment on Nuttail's cottontail rabbit (Sylvilagus nuttallii) conducted in central Oregon during 1974 and 1975, which has been previously analyzed by other authors.
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How should detection probability be incorporated into estimates of relative abundance?