Call surveys offer a valuable method to monitor anuran populations attributable to their temporal breeding habits and close association with water. Many temperate locations have adopted citizen science programs to monitor local anuran populations using call surveys and road transects. These surveys, however, are not commonly conducted in the tropics. I tested use of call surveys for estimating population density of a small terrestrial poison frog, Oophaga pumilio, in six different populations in Bocas del Toro, Panama. By conducting three-minute call surveys, and searching for all individual frogs in a 10 m radius of the survey point, I directly compared the number of calling males to the observed number of frogs in a given area. I found call density to be a poor predictor of population density. Despite there being differences in population densities, the lack of a relationship between the number of calls and population density highlights the limited use for call surveys for terrestrial, territorial species. Although call surveys may be useful in some taxa for general abundance estimates, this study clearly demonstrates a startling deficiency of call surveys for anuran monitoring and highlights the need for species-specific analysis to further explore the utility of this method.
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Vol. 51 • No. 1