Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

The effect of survey method on the detection probabilities of frogs and tadpoles in large wetland complexes

Skye Wassens A C , Andrew Hall A and Jennifer Spencer B

A Institute for Land, Water and Society, School of Environmental Sciences, Charles Sturt University, PO Box 789, Albury, NSW 2640, Australia.

B Water, Wetlands & Coast Science Branch, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, PO Box A290, Sydney South, NSW 1232, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: swassens@csu.edu.au

Marine and Freshwater Research - https://doi.org/10.1071/MF15183
Submitted: 7 May 2015  Accepted: 9 March 2016   Published online: 16 June 2016

Abstract

Knowledge of the probability of detecting a species with a given survey effort is important when planning monitoring programs. The present paper compares detection probabilities for six survey methods: audio-visual transect surveys targeting adult frogs, and sweep netting, bait traps, small fyke nets, large fyke nets and seine netting targeting tadpoles. Data were drawn from repeat surveys of 16 wetlands over a 3-year period (2008–2011). Detection probabilities of each method and species combination were determined by maximum likelihood estimation. Audio-visual surveys targeting adults had a higher probability of detecting individual species than did methods targeting their tadpoles. However, the presence of adults was a reasonably poor indicator of the presence of their tadpoles on any given survey occasion. Of the methods employed to target tadpoles, large and small fyke nets had a significantly higher probability of detecting tadpoles of all species than did bait traps, seining or sweep nets. Differences in the detection probability of different methods demonstrated that the choice of survey method can bias towards particular groups of species and, in some cases, underestimate breeding activity by frog species in large waterbodies.

Additional keywords: environmental water, monitoring, survey effort, threatened species.


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