DS — Software for analyzing data collected using double sampling

Open-File Report 2011-1269




DS analyzes count data to estimate density or relative density and population size when appropriate. The software is available at The software was designed to analyze data collected using double sampling, but it also can be used to analyze index data. DS is not currently configured to apply distance methods or methods based on capture-recapture theory. Double sampling for the purpose of this report means surveying a sample of locations with a rapid method of unknown accuracy and surveying a subset of these locations using a more intensive method assumed to yield unbiased estimates. "Detection ratios" are calculated as the ratio of results from rapid surveys on intensive plots to the number actually present as determined from the intensive surveys. The detection ratios are used to adjust results from the rapid surveys. The formula for density is (results from rapid survey)/(estimated detection ratio from intensive surveys). Population sizes are estimated as (density)(area). Double sampling is well-established in the survey sampling literature—see Cochran (1977) for the basic theory, Smith (1995) for applications of double sampling in waterfowl surveys, Bart and Earnst (2002, 2005) for discussions of its use in wildlife studies, and Bart and others (in press) for a detailed account of how the method was used to survey shorebirds across the arctic region of North America. Indices are surveys that do not involve complete counts of well-defined plots or recording information to estimate detection rates (Thompson and others, 1998). In most cases, such data should not be used to estimate density or population size but, under some circumstances, may be used to compare two densities or estimate how density changes through time or across space (Williams and others, 2005). The Breeding Bird Survey (Sauer and others, 2008) provides a good example of an index survey. Surveyors record all birds detected but do not record any information, such as distance or whether each bird is recorded in subperiods, that could be used to estimate detection rates. Nonetheless, the data are widely used to estimate temporal trends and spatial patterns in abundance (Sauer and others, 2008). DS produces estimates of density (or relative density for indices) by species and stratum. Strata are usually defined using region and habitat but other variables may be used, and the entire study area may be classified as a single stratum. Population size in each stratum and for the entire study area also is estimated for each species. For indices, the estimated totals generally are only useful if (a) plots are surveyed so that densities can be calculated and extrapolated to the entire study area and (b) if the detection rates are close to 1.0. All estimates are accompanied by standard errors (SE) and coefficients of variation (CV, that is, SE/estimate).

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DS — Software for analyzing data collected using double sampling
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Open-File Report
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U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center
iv, 22 p.; Appendix
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