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Monitoring wildlife population trends with sample counts: A case study on the Alpine ibex (Capra ibex)
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  • Matteo Panaccio,
  • Alice Brambilla,
  • Bruno Bassano,
  • Tessa Smith,
  • Achaz von Hardenberg
Matteo Panaccio
University of Chester

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Alice Brambilla
University of Zurich
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Bruno Bassano
Ente Parco Nazionale Gran Paradiso
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Tessa Smith
University of Chester
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Achaz von Hardenberg
University of Chester
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Monitoring population dynamics is of fundamental importance in conservation but assessing trends in abundance can be costly, especially in large and rough areas. Obtaining trend estimations from counts performed in only a portion of the total area (sample counts) can be a cost-effective method to improve the monitoring and conservation of species difficult to count. We tested the effectiveness of sample counts in monitoring population trends of wild animals, using as a model population the Alpine ibex (Capra ibex) in Gran Paradiso National Park (Italy), both with computer simulations and using historical census data collected over the last 65 years. Despite sample counts could fail to correctly estimate the true population abundance, sampling half of the target area could reliably monitor the trend of the target population. In case of strong changes in abundance, an even lower proportion of the total area could be sufficient to identify the direction of the population trend. However, when there is a high yearly trend variability, the required number of samples increases and even counting in the entire area can be ineffective to monitor population dynamics. Lastly, the effect of other parameters (such as which portion of the area is sampled or the detectability) was marginal, but these should be tested case by case. Sample counts could therefore constitute a viable alternative to assess population trends, allowing for important, cost-effective improvements in the monitoring of wild animals of conservation interest.
24 May 2023Submitted to Wildlife Biology
25 May 2023Submission Checks Completed
25 May 2023Assigned to Editor
26 May 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
26 May 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned
16 Jul 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Major
05 Aug 20231st Revision Received
11 Aug 2023Assigned to Editor
11 Aug 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
11 Aug 2023Submission Checks Completed
11 Aug 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned
16 Sep 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
01 Oct 20232nd Revision Received
02 Oct 2023Submission Checks Completed
02 Oct 2023Assigned to Editor
02 Oct 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
02 Oct 2023Editorial Decision: Accept