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Monitoring low density populations: A perspective on what level of population decline we can truly detect

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Peter Lurz, Dr Mark Shirley


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Monitoring low density populations: a perspective on what level of population decline we can truly detect. - Monitoring of mammal species is an important part in detecting changes in their status. Efforts are based on a variety of direct and indirect methods and many low density populations are monitored through field signs. We present data on the endangered European red squirrel from Kidland Forest in the UK. We used cone transects to both record changes in seed availability and to monitor population trends. We examined the difficulty of accurately detecting population change when populations are low and field signs are patchily distributed. Current efforts would be sufficient to detect significant population declines of 50-75% in years with a modest squirrel population but not when they fall below one squirrel for every 20 ha of forest. The findings emphasise that monitoring aims have to be clearly defined with an awareness and understanding of what level of change the adopted methodological approach can reliably detect. We propose that mammal monitoring schemes need to be based on a pilot scheme to determine effect size and planned accordingly. © 2008 Museu de Ciències Naturals.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lurz PWW, Shirley MDF, Geddes N

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Animal Biodiversity and Conservation

Year: 2008

Volume: 31

Issue: 1

Pages: 29-39

Print publication date: 01/01/2008

ISSN (print): 1578-665X

ISSN (electronic):

Publisher: Museu de Ciencies Naturals de la Ciutadella