Knowledge of factors influencing animal distribution and abundance is essential in many areas of ecological research, management, and policy-making. Because common methods for modeling and estimating abundance (e.g., capture-recapture, distance sampling) are sometimes not practical for large areas or elusive species, indices are sometimes used as surrogate measures of abundance. We present an extension of the Royle and Nichols (2003) generalization of the MacKenzie et al. (2002) site-occupancy model that incorporates length of the sampling interval into the, model for detection probability. As a result, we obtain a modeling framework that shows how useful information can be extracted from a class of index methods we call indirect detection indices (IDIs). Examples of IDIs include scent station, tracking tube, snow track, tracking plate, and hair snare surveys. Our model is maximum likelihood, and it can be used to estimate site occupancy and model factors influencing patterns of occupancy and abundance in space. Under certain circumstances, it can also be used to estimate abundance. We evaluated model properties using Monte Carlo simulations and illustrate the method with tracking tube and scent station data. We believe this model will be a useful tool for determining factors that influence animal distribution and abundance.
Additional publication details
Estimating site occupancy and abundance using indirect detection indices