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Identification errors in camera-trap studies result in systematic population overestimation

Johansson, Örjan and Samelius, Gustaf and Wikberg, Ewa and Chapron, Guillaume and Mishra, Charudutt and Low, Matthew (2020). Identification errors in camera-trap studies result in systematic population overestimation. Scientific Reports. 10 , 6393
[Journal article]

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Abstract

Reliable assessments of animal abundance are key for successful conservation of endangered species. For elusive animals with individually-unique markings, camera-trap surveys are a benchmark standard for estimating local and global population abundance. Central to the reliability of resulting abundance estimates is the assumption that individuals are accurately identified from photographic captures. To quantify the risk of individual misidentification and its impact on population abundance estimates we performed an experiment under controlled conditions in which 16 captive snow leopards (Panthera uncia) were camera-trapped on 40 occasions and eight observers independently identified individuals and recaptures. Observers misclassified 12.5% of all capture occasions, resulting in systematically inflated population abundance estimates on average by one third (mean +/- SD = 35 +/- 21%). Our results show that identifying individually-unique individuals from camera-trap photos may not be as reliable as previously believed, implying that elusive and endangered species could be less abundant than current estimates indicate.

Authors/Creators:Johansson, Örjan and Samelius, Gustaf and Wikberg, Ewa and Chapron, Guillaume and Mishra, Charudutt and Low, Matthew
Title:Identification errors in camera-trap studies result in systematic population overestimation
Year of publishing :2020
Volume:10
Article number:6393
Number of Pages:10
ISSN:2045-2322
Language:English
Publication Type:Journal article
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Copyright:Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 1 Natural sciences > 106 Biological Sciences (Medical to be 3 and Agricultural to be 4) > Ecology
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-107921
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-107921
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
DOI10.1038/s41598-020-63367-z
Web of Science (WoS)000562163200004
ID Code:17831
Faculty:S - Faculty of Forest Sciences
NJ - Fakulteten för naturresurser och jordbruksvetenskap
Department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Ecology
(S) > Dept. of Ecology
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:15 Oct 2020 10:40
Metadata Last Modified:15 Oct 2020 10:41

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