Point transect sampling with traps or lures


Stephen Buckland, CREEM, The Observatory, Buchanan Gardens, St Andrews, Fife KY16 9LZ, UK (e-mail steve@mcs.st-and.ac.uk).


  • 1The ability to monitor abundance of animal populations is becoming increasingly important, in light of growing concerns over the loss of biodiversity through anthropogenic changes. A widely used tool for such monitoring is distance sampling, in which distances of detected animals from a line or point are modelled, to estimate detectability and hence abundance. Nevertheless, many species still prove problematic to survey. We have developed two extensions to point transect sampling that potentially allow abundance to be estimated for a number of species from diverse taxa for which good survey methods have not previously been available.
  • 2For each method, the primary survey comprises a random sample of points, or more usually a systematic grid of points, through the region of interest. Animals are lured to a point, or trapped at a point, and the number of animals observed at each point is recorded. A separate study is conducted on a subset of animals, to record whether they respond to the lure or enter the trap, for a range of known distances from the point. These data are used to estimate the probability that an animal will respond to the lure or enter the trap, as a function of its initial distance from the point. This allows the counts to be converted to an estimate of abundance in the survey region.
  • 3We illustrated the methods using a lure survey of crossbills Loxia spp. in coniferous woodland in Scotland.
  • 4Synthesis and applications. Two extensions of point transect sampling that use the same statistical methodology, lure point transects and trapping point transects, have been developed. Lure point transects extend the applicability of distance sampling to species that can be lured to a point, while trapping point transects potentially allow abundance estimation of species that can be trapped, with fewer resources needed than trapping webs and conventional mark–recapture methods.