Evaluating Detection Probabilities for American Marten in the Black Hills, South Dakota



ABSTRACT  Assessing the effectiveness of monitoring techniques designed to determine presence of forest carnivores, such as American marten (Martes Americana), is crucial for validation of survey results. Although comparisons between techniques have been made, little attention has been paid to the issue of detection probabilities (p). Thus, the underlying assumption has been that detection probabilities equal 1.0. We used Presence-Absence data obtained from a track-plate survey in conjunction with results from a saturation-trapping study to derive detection probabilities when marten occurred at high (>2 marten/10.2 km2) and low (≤1 marten/10.2 km2) densities within 8 10.2-km2 quadrats. Estimated probability of detecting marten in high-density quadrats was p = 0.952 (SE = 0.047), whereas the detection probability for low-density quadrats was considerably lower (p = 0.333, SE = 0.136). Our results indicated that failure to account for imperfect detection could lead to an underestimation of marten presence in 15–52% of low-density quadrats in the Black Hills, South Dakota, USA. We recommend that repeated site-survey data be analyzed to assess detection probabilities when documenting carnivore survey results.