Comparing the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of sampling methods for estimating population abundance and density of a recovering carnivore: the European pine marten (Martes martes)

Elizabeth Croose, Johnny D.S. Birks, John Martin, Gareth Ventress, Jenny MacPherson, Catherine O’Reilly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Many methods are available to gather data on wildlife population parameters, such as population abundance and density, yet few have been compared or validated. We compared the efficacy of three survey methods (live trapping, hair tubes and scats) for estimating abundance and population density of the European pine marten (Martes martes) in Galloway Forest, Scotland. We evaluated these methods by, firstly, comparing the accuracy of the population estimate derived from each method, and, secondly, comparing the financial cost of each method. Molecular analysis of samples from all three methods was used to determine sex and individual genotype. Population abundance estimates were derived from capture-recapture programme Capwire. The non-invasive methods (hair tubes and scats combined) detected 81% of known individuals, although hair tubes and scats performed poorly alone, detecting 48% and 52% of individuals, respectively. Live trapping was the individual method that detected the most individuals (77%). Hair tubes were the most expensive method, both in financial cost and personnel hours, whilst scat sampling was the cheapest method. There was a highly significant association between the sex of the animal and the total number of detections by method. The population abundance estimate from all methods combined was 32 (95% CI 31–35) and the population density estimate was 0.27 martens/km2. This study indicates that a combined sampling approach comprising hair tubes and scats maximises the number of detections and provides a viable alternative to invasive live trapping.

Original languageEnglish
Article number37
JournalEuropean Journal of Wildlife Research
Volume65
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jun 2019

Keywords

  • (4–6): Pine marten
  • Non-invasive
  • Population abundance
  • Population density
  • Trapping

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