Difficulty in monitoring the flat-tailed horned lizard (Phrynosoma mcallii) has led to controversy over its conservation status. The difficulty in detecting this species has discouraged large-scale estimates of abundance and led to uncertainty over whether the species exists in population sizes of sufficient size for long-term persistence. We incorporated detection probability into monitoring of this species using closed mark–recapture and distance-sampling methods. Density estimation from mark–recapture abundance estimates was improved using an estimate of the proportion of time lizards were on the plot. We estimated the probability of detection on the line for distance sampling and adjusted density estimates accordingly. We estimated the populations of the Yuha Basin Management Area in 2002 and the East Mesa Management Area, Imperial County, California, USA, in 2003 to be 25,514 (95% CI 14,444–38,970) and 42,619 (95% CI 23,161–67,639), respectively. Two estimates of detection probability on the line in distance sampling by different methods were 0.45 and 0.65. Density estimates derived from distance analyses for 3 East Mesa Management Area plots and the Yuha Basin Management Area were 1.55 per ha (95% CI 0.64–3.76) and 0.41 per ha (95% CI 0.22–0.7), respectively. These are the first large-scale estimates of abundance and density for P. mcallii.
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