Standard Article

Aerial Survey Data

Ecological Statistics

  1. Jay M. Ver Hoef

Published Online: 15 JAN 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9780470057339.vnn144

Encyclopedia of Environmetrics

Encyclopedia of Environmetrics

How to Cite

Ver Hoef, J. M. 2013. Aerial Survey Data. Encyclopedia of Environmetrics. 1.

Author Information

  1. Alaska Fisheries Science Center/NOAA, Seattle, WA, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JAN 2013


Aircraft are important platforms for sampling and monitoring the environment. Aerial surveys often use photography to estimate some environmental feature over large geographic areas. In this article I use wildlife surveys from Alaska as examples, which are broadly classified based on visibility of the response variable. Census data is covered first, where all objects are visible to be counted with complete survey coverage. Sampling is used when all objects are visible but complete survey coverage is not possible. When objects are only partially visible, distance sampling and capture-recapture methods are popular. Even when items are only partially visible, it may still be possible to estimate trend and habitat relationships. Occupancy models can be used for less expensive, rapid surveys, or when objects are very difficult to see but evidence of presence is possible. Advancements in technology such as digital cameras, GPS systems, etc., have made aircraft more valuable and cost effective for surveys, and this trend will likely continue.


  • census;
  • distance sampling;
  • capture-recapture;
  • trend;
  • habitat;
  • occupancy