There is growing interest among resource managers in implementing long-term wildlife monitoring. The process to develop such a program may seem daunting, however, because it requires determining the species, metrics, sampling methods, experimental design, and level of effort necessary to achieve the desired power for detecting meaningful changes. Failure to give these decisions proper attention often leads to suboptimal information for decisions and planning objectives. Our primary objectives were to develop alternative scenarios for a monitoring program, including power estimates and sampling effort required to detect population changes for small mammals on rangelands in southern Texas. Our secondary objective was to present a framework for developing customized monitoring programs for tracking wildlife populations over time. We trapped small mammals using ∼ 28 000 trap nights each year from 2014 to 2016 resulting in 13 183 captures of nine species. We estimated abundances and occupancy in each year for each species and conducted power analyses using simulations. We used these results to develop four multispecies monitoring scenarios: two with distinctly different levels of effort with abundance as the focal metric and two for monitoring occupancy. The most effort-intensive scenario required trapping 40 grids for 6 consecutive nights each yr. With this effort, we predicted it would be possible to detect annual changes in abundance of ≤ 10% after 10 yr for four species and net declines in occupancy of ≤ 50% after 10 yr for five species with a power of 0.90. The least effort-intensive scenario required trapping 30 transects for 4 consecutive nights each yr. We predicted this effort would allow for the detection of annual changes in occupancy rates between 35% and 55% after 10 yr for five species. Our study is an example for land managers, providing general guidelines for developing rigorous, long-term monitoring programs specific to their objectives.
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