Comparative Efficacy of Sign Surveys, Spotlighting and Audio Playbacks in a Landscape-Scale Carnivore Survey

Michelle Thorn, Matthew Green, Philip W. Bateman, Elissa Z. Cameron, Richard W. Yarnell, Dawn M. Scott
2010 South African Journal of Wildlife Research  
Many carnivores are difficult and labour-intensive to detect, often leading to prohibitively high effort and cost in large-scale surveys. However, such studies provide information that is important for effective management and conservation. Here, we evaluate the suitability of three survey methods for landscape-scale multi-species monitoring. We compare sign surveys, spotlighting, and audio playbacks in terms of detection efficiency, precision, effort, and cost. Sign surveys out-performed the
more » ... out-performed the other methods in all comparison criteria, although supplementary methods were needed for some species and sites. We found that using established analysis techniques, robust landscape-scale abundance estimates would require unrealistically high effort and cost. Occupancy estimation required considerably lower sample sizes and was therefore more economical. We conclude that sign-based occupancy estimates constitute a versatile and efficient option for future large-scale, multi-species carnivore surveys.
doi:10.3957/056.040.0113 fatcat:4upb5nhnijcdjk6wndxykrywfu