Variance of Stratified Survey Estimators With Probability of Detection Adjustments




Abstract: Estimates of wildlife population sizes are frequently constructed by combining counts of observed animals from a stratified survey of aerial sampling units with an estimated probability of detecting animals. Unlike traditional stratified survey designs, stratum-specific estimates of population size will be correlated if a common detection model is used to adjust counts for undetected animals in all strata. We illustrate this concept in the context of aerial surveys, considering 2 cases: 1) a single-detection parameter is estimated under the assumption of constant detection probabilities, and 2) a logistic-regression model is used to estimate heterogeneous detection probabilities. Naïve estimates of variance formed by summing stratum-specific estimates of variance may result in significant bias, particularly if there are a large number of strata, if detection probabilities are small, or if estimates of detection probabilities are imprecise. (JOURNAL OF WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT 72(3):837–844; 2008)