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Identifying minimal sets of survey techniques for multi-species monitoring across landscapes: an approach utilising species distribution models

Gilad Bino, Daniel Ramp, Richard T. Kingsford
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Journal Article
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Monitoring for species occupancy is often carried out at local scales, reflecting specific targets, available logistics, and funding. Problematically, conservation planning and management operate at broader scales and use information inventories with good scale coverage. Translating information between local and landscape scales is commonly treated in an ad hoc manner, but conservation decision-making can benefit from quantifying spatial-knowledge relationships. Fauna occupancy monitoring, in particular, suffers from this issue of scale, as there are many different survey methods employed for different purposes. Rather than ignoring how informative these methods are when predicting regional distributions, we describe a statistical approach that identifies survey combinations that provide the greatest additive value in mammal detection across different scales. We identified minimal sets of survey methods for 53 terrestrial mammal species across a large area in Australia (New South Wales (NSW), 800,000 km2) and for each of the 18 bioregions it encompasses. Utility of survey methods varied considerably at a landscape scale. Unplanned opportunistic sightings were the single largest source of species information (35%). The utility of other survey methods varied spatially; some were retained in minimal sets for many bioregions, while others were spatially restricted or unimportant. Predator scats, Elliot and pitfall trapping, spotlighting, and diurnal herpetofauna surveys were the most frequently included survey methods at a landscape scale. Use of our approach can guide identi- fication of efficient combinations of survey methods, maximising detection and returns for monitoring. Findings and methodologies are easily transferable and are globally applicable across any taxa. They provide guidelines for managing scarce resources for regional monitoring programs, and improving regional strategic conservation planning. Keywords:

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