Cost considerations may be as important as precision when making survey-design choices, and the ability to accurately estimate survey costs will be essential if survey budgets become more constrained. We used data from a survey of ring-necked ducks (Aythya collaris) to illustrate how simple distance formulas can be used to construct a cost function for aerial quadrat surveys. Our cost function provided reasonable estimates of effort (hr) and costs, and allowed us to evaluate plot-size choices in terms of expected cost-precision tradeoffs. Although factors influencing costs in wildlife surveys can be complicated, we believe that cost functions deserve more attention and should be routinely considered in conjunction with traditional power analyses.
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Vol. 74 • No. 2