A framework for adapting survey design through time for wildlife population assessment
Underwood, F. M. (2012) A framework for adapting survey design through time for wildlife population assessment. Environmental and Ecological Statistics, 19 (3). pp. 413-436. ISSN 1573-3009
To link to this article DOI: 10.1007/s10651-012-0193-4
Sampling strategies for monitoring the status and trends in wildlife populations are often determined before the first survey is undertaken. However, there may be little information about the distribution of the population and so the sample design may be inefficient. Through time, as data are collected, more information about the distribution of animals in the survey region is obtained but it can be difficult to incorporate this information in the survey design. This paper introduces a framework for monitoring motile wildlife populations within which the design of future surveys can be adapted using data from past surveys whilst ensuring consistency in design-based estimates of status and trends through time. In each survey, part of the sample is selected from the previous survey sample using simple random sampling. The rest is selected with inclusion probability proportional to predicted abundance. Abundance is predicted using a model constructed from previous survey data and covariates for the whole survey region. Unbiased design-based estimators of status and trends and their variances are derived from two-phase sampling theory. Simulations over the short and long-term indicate that in general more precise estimates of status and trends are obtained using this mixed strategy than a strategy in which all of the sample is retained or all selected with probability proportional to predicted abundance. Furthermore the mixed strategy is robust to poor predictions of abundance. Estimates of status are more precise than those obtained from a rotating panel design.