A composite approach to point transect sampling is adopted in which the properties of the abundance estimator stem from the scheme performed to select points on the study area as well as from the modelled probabilities of detection. A consistent and asymptotically normal estimator of abundance is derived under some assumptions about the detection function, while a multivariate generalization of this result is provided in multi-species surveys to estimate the species abundance vector. Jackknife estimators of diversity indices are also derived as functions of species abundance estimators. An application is considered for comparing the ecological diversity of avian communities in short rotation forestry versus traditional crops. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.