Recent worldwide amphibian declines have highlighted a need for long-term, large-scale monitoring programs. Scientific or management objectives, appropriate spatial sampling, and detectability all must be considered when designing monitoring programs (Yoccoz et al. 2001). The ability to establish meaningful monitoring programs currently is compromised by a lack of information about amphibian detection probabilities. We used Pollock's robust design and capture–recapture models that included temporary emigration to test a priori hypotheses about spatial and temporal variation in salamander detection probability parameters for populations found in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Tennessee/North Carolina), USA. We explored the effects of 3 large-scale habitat characteristics (disturbance history, elevation, vegetation type) and found that vegetation type and elevation were correlated with detection probabilities. Vegetation type was an important covariant in estimates of temporary emigration, conditional capture probability, and surface population size. Contrasts that isolated elevation effects were significant for all detection probability parameters except recapture probability, despite our small elevational range (330 m). When detection probability parameters have the potential to vary over time and space, investigators should develop monitoring designs that permit the estimation of detection probabilities.
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Vol. 68 • No. 1