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Researchers have used occupancy, or probability of occupancy, as a response or state variable in a variety of studies (e.g., habitat modeling), and occupancy is increasingly favored by numerous state, federal, and international agencies engaged in monitoring programs. Recent advances in estimation methods have emphasized that reliable inferences can be made from these types of studies if detection and occupancy probabilities are simultaneously estimated. The need for temporal replication at sampled sites to estimate detection probability creates a trade-off between spatial replication (number of sample sites distributed within the area of interest/inference) and temporal replication (number of repeated surveys at each site). Here, we discuss a suite of questions commonly encountered during the design phase of occupancy studies, and we describe software (program GENPRES) developed to allow investigators to easily explore design trade-offs focused on particularities of their study system and sampling limitations. We illustrate the utility of program GENPRES using an amphibian example from Greater Yellowstone National Park, USA.
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Sampling design trade-offs in occupancy studies with imperfect detection: examples and software