Camera traps and mark-resight models: The value of ancillary data for evaluating assumptions

Journal of Wildlife Management
By: , and 

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Abstract

Unbiased estimators of abundance and density are fundamental to the study of animal ecology and critical for making sound management decisions. Capture–recapture models are generally considered the most robust approach for estimating these parameters but rely on a number of assumptions that are often violated but rarely validated. Mark-resight models, a form of capture–recapture, are well suited for use with noninvasive sampling methods and allow for a number of assumptions to be relaxed. We used ancillary data from continuous video and radio telemetry to evaluate the assumptions of mark-resight models for abundance estimation on a barrier island raccoon (Procyon lotor) population using camera traps. Our island study site was geographically closed, allowing us to estimate real survival and in situ recruitment in addition to population size. We found several sources of bias due to heterogeneity of capture probabilities in our study, including camera placement, animal movement, island physiography, and animal behavior. Almost all sources of heterogeneity could be accounted for using the sophisticated mark-resight models developed by McClintock et al. (2009b) and this model generated estimates similar to a spatially explicit mark-resight model previously developed for this population during our study. Spatially explicit capture–recapture models have become an important tool in ecology and confer a number of advantages; however, non-spatial models that account for inherent individual heterogeneity may perform nearly as well, especially where immigration and emigration are limited. Non-spatial models are computationally less demanding, do not make implicit assumptions related to the isotropy of home ranges, and can provide insights with respect to the biological traits of the local population.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Camera traps and mark-resight models: The value of ancillary data for evaluating assumptions
Series title Journal of Wildlife Management
DOI 10.1002/jwmg.931
Volume 79
Issue 7
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher The Wildlife Society
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Atlanta
Description 10 p.
First page 1163
Last page 1172
Country United States
State North Carolina
Other Geospatial Cape Lookout National Seashore