We compared track-tube sampling with mark-recapture livetrapping and evaluated a track-tube index, defined as the number of track tubes with identifiable small mammal tracks during a 4-night period, as a predictor of small mammal abundance estimates in North Dakota grasslands. Meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus) were the most commonly recorded species by both methods, but were underrepresented in track-tube sampling, whereas 13-lined ground squirrels (Spermophilus tridecemlineatus) and Franklin's ground squirrels (S. franklinii) were overrepresented in track-tube sampling. Estimates of average species richness were lower from track tubes than from livetrapping. Regression models revealed that the track-tube index was at best a moderately good predictor of small mammal population estimates because both the form (linear versus curvilinear) and slope of the relationship varied between years. In addition, 95% prediction intervals indicated low precision when predicting population estimates from new track-tube index observations. Track tubes required less time and expense than mark-recapture and eliminated handling of small mammals. Using track tubes along with mark-recapture in a double sampling for regression framework would have potential value when attempting to estimate abundance of small mammals over large areas. ?? 2007 American Society of Mammalogists.
Additional publication details
Assessing small mammal abundance with track-tube indices and mark-recapture population estimates