A model to optimize trap systems used for small mammal (Rodentia, Insectivora) density estimates
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Amministrazione Provinciale di Como - Servizio Faunistico
Publication date: 1997-12-28
Hystrix It. J. Mamm. 1997;9(1-2)
Abstract The environment found in the upper and lower Padane Plain and the adjoining hills isn't very homogeneous. In fact it is impossible to find biotopes extended enough to satisfy the necessary criteria for density estimate of small mammals based on the Removal method. This limitation has been partially overcome by adopting a reduced grid, counting 39 traps whose spacing depends on the studied species. Aim of this work was to verify - and eventually measure - the efficiency of a sampling method based on a "reduced" number of catch points. The efficiency of 18 trapping cycles, realized from 1991 to 1993, was evaluated as percent bias. For each of the trapping cycles, 100 computer simulations were performed, so obtaining a Monte-Carlo estimate of bias in density values. Then later, the efficiency of different trap arrangements was examined by varying the criteria. The numbers of traps ranged from 9 to 49, with trap spacing varying from 5 to 15 m and a trapping period duration from 5 to 9 nights. In this way an optimal grid system was found both for dimensions and time duration. The simulation processes involved, as a whole, 1511 different grid types, for 11347 virtual trapping cycles. Our results indicate that density estimates based on "reduced" grids are affected by an average -16% bias, that is an underestimate, and that an optimally sized grid must consist of 6x6 traps square, with about 8.7 m spacing. and be in operation for 7 nights.
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