Improving geographically extensive acoustic survey designs for modeling species occurrence with imperfect detection and misidentification

Ecology and Evolution
By: , and 

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Abstract

Acoustic recording units (ARUs) enable geographically extensive surveys of sensitive and elusive species. However, a hidden cost of using ARU data for modeling species occupancy is that prohibitive amounts of human verification may be required to correct species identifications made from automated software. Bat acoustic studies exemplify this challenge because large volumes of echolocation calls could be recorded and automatically classified to species. The standard occupancy model requires aggregating verified recordings to construct confirmed detection/non‐detection datasets. The multistep data processing workflow is not necessarily transparent nor consistent among studies. We share a workflow diagramming strategy that could provide coherency among practitioners. A false‐positive occupancy model is explored that accounts for misclassification errors and enables potential reduction in the number of confirmed detections. Simulations informed by real data were used to evaluate how much confirmation effort could be reduced without sacrificing site occupancy and detection error estimator bias and precision. We found even under a 50% reduction in total confirmation effort, estimator properties were reasonable for our assumed survey design, species‐specific parameter values, and desired precision. For transferability, a fully documented r package, OCacoustic, for implementing a false‐positive occupancy model is provided. Practitioners can apply OCacoustic to optimize their own study design (required sample sizes, number of visits, and confirmation scenarios) for properly implementing a false‐positive occupancy model with bat or other wildlife acoustic data. Additionally, our work highlights the importance of clearly defining research objectives and data processing strategies at the outset to align the study design with desired statistical inferences.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Improving geographically extensive acoustic survey designs for modeling species occurrence with imperfect detection and misidentification
Series title Ecology and Evolution
DOI 10.1002/ece3.4162
Volume 8
Issue 12
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center
Description 13 p.
First page 6144
Last page 6156