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1 June 2005 A field test of two methods for density estimation
Murray G. Efford, Bruce Warburton, Morgan C. Coleman, Richard J. Barker
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Density of wildlife populations is a key variable for management, yet reliable estimation is elusive. We tested one established method (trapping webs and distance analysis) and one novel method (inverse prediction from capture–recapture data) on a population of brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) whose density also could be determined by exhaustive removal. The study area was approximately 315 ha of coastal plantation forest surrounded on 3 sides by sand and water. We placed 4 lines of 9 cage traps at 20-m spacing in a square to form a “hollow grid.” We set 5 hollow grids, each comprising 36 traps, for 5 days; we tagged and released possums. We later set 5 trapping webs of 50 traps each at the same sites; we caught possums and removed them over 4 days. Wide-area removal used a combination of acute poisoning and leghold trapping. The estimate of density by inverse prediction (1.88/ha, SE = 0.26) was consistent with the removal estimate (2.27/ha), whereas estimates from trapping webs were positively biased (6.5 to 8.0/ha, depending on method of analysis). The inverse prediction method frees capture–recapture from the straitjacket of conventional grids and should allow accurate landscape-scale estimation of density once the requisite trapping effort is identified.

Murray G. Efford, Bruce Warburton, Morgan C. Coleman, and Richard J. Barker "A field test of two methods for density estimation," Wildlife Society Bulletin 33(2), 731-738, (1 June 2005).[731:AFTOTM]2.0.CO;2
Published: 1 June 2005

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brushtail possum
density estimation
inverse prediction
trapping web
Trichosurus vulpecula
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