Introduced brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) are a widespread pest of conservation and agriculture in New Zealand, and considerable effort has been expended controlling populations to low densities. A national protocol for monitoring the abundance of possums, termed trap catch index (TCI), was adopted in 1996. The TCI requires that lines of leghold traps set at 20-m spacing are randomly located in a management area. The traps are set for 3 fine nights and checked daily, and possums are killed and traps reset. The TCI is the mean percentage of trap nights that possums were caught, corrected for sprung traps and nontarget captures, with trap line as the sampling unit. We studied 1 forest and 1 farmland area in the North Island, New Zealand, to address concerns that TCI estimates may not be readily comparable because of seasonal changes in the capture probability of possums. We located blocks of 6 trap lines at each area and randomly trapped 1 line in each block in 3 seasons (summer, winter, and spring) in 2000 and 2001. We developed a model to allow for variation in local population size and nightly capture probability, and fitted the model using the Bayesian analysis software BUGS. Capture probability declined with increasing abundance of possums, generating a nonlinear TCI. Capture probability in farmland was lower during spring relative to winter and summer, and to forest during summer. In the absence of a proven and cost-effective alternative, our results support the continued use of the TCI for monitoring the abundance of possums in New Zealand. Seasonal biases in the TCI should be minimized by conducting repeat sampling in the same season.
You have requested a machine translation of selected content from our databases. This functionality is provided solely for your convenience and is in no way intended to replace human translation. Neither BioOne nor the owners and publishers of the content make, and they explicitly disclaim, any express or implied representations or warranties of any kind, including, without limitation, representations and warranties as to the functionality of the translation feature or the accuracy or completeness of the translations.
Translations are not retained in our system. Your use of this feature and the translations is subject to all use restrictions contained in the Terms and Conditions of Use of the BioOne website.
Vol. 69 • No. 3