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Estimating orangutan densities using the standing crop and marked nest count methods: Lessons learned for conservation


Spehar, S N; Mathewson, P D; Nuzuar, Mr; Wich, S A; Marshall, A J; Kühl, H; Nardiyono, Mr; Meijaard, E (2010). Estimating orangutan densities using the standing crop and marked nest count methods: Lessons learned for conservation. Biotropica, 42(6):748-757.

Abstract

Reliable estimates of great ape abundance are needed to assess distribution, monitor population status, evaluate conservation tactics, and identify priority populations
for conservation. Rather than using direct counts, surveyors often count ape nests. The standing crop nest count (SCNC) method converts the standing stock of nests
into animal densities using a set of parameters, including nest decay rate. Nest decay rates vary greatly over space and time, and it takes months to calculate a site-specific
value. The marked nest count (MNC) method circumvents this issue and only counts new nests produced during a defined period. We compared orangutan densities
calculated by the two methods using data from studies in Sumatra and Kalimantan, Indonesia. We show how animal densities calculated using nest counts should be
cautiously interpreted when used to make decisions about management or budget allocation. Even with site-specific decay rates, short studies using the SCNC method
may not accurately reflect the current population unless conducted at a scale sufficient to include wide-ranging orangutan movement. Density estimates from short
studies using the MNC method were affected by small sample sizes and by orangutan movement. To produce reliable results, the MNC method may require a similar
amount of effort as the SCNC method. We suggest a reduced reliance on the traditional line transect surveys in favor of feasible alternative methods when absolute
abundance numbers are not necessary or when site-specific nest decay rates are not known. Given funding constraints, aerial surveys, reconnaissance walks, and
interview techniques may be more cost-effective means of accomplishing some survey goals.

Abstract

Reliable estimates of great ape abundance are needed to assess distribution, monitor population status, evaluate conservation tactics, and identify priority populations
for conservation. Rather than using direct counts, surveyors often count ape nests. The standing crop nest count (SCNC) method converts the standing stock of nests
into animal densities using a set of parameters, including nest decay rate. Nest decay rates vary greatly over space and time, and it takes months to calculate a site-specific
value. The marked nest count (MNC) method circumvents this issue and only counts new nests produced during a defined period. We compared orangutan densities
calculated by the two methods using data from studies in Sumatra and Kalimantan, Indonesia. We show how animal densities calculated using nest counts should be
cautiously interpreted when used to make decisions about management or budget allocation. Even with site-specific decay rates, short studies using the SCNC method
may not accurately reflect the current population unless conducted at a scale sufficient to include wide-ranging orangutan movement. Density estimates from short
studies using the MNC method were affected by small sample sizes and by orangutan movement. To produce reliable results, the MNC method may require a similar
amount of effort as the SCNC method. We suggest a reduced reliance on the traditional line transect surveys in favor of feasible alternative methods when absolute
abundance numbers are not necessary or when site-specific nest decay rates are not known. Given funding constraints, aerial surveys, reconnaissance walks, and
interview techniques may be more cost-effective means of accomplishing some survey goals.

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10 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Anthropology
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Language:English
Date:2010
Deposited On:18 Feb 2011 21:37
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 14:42
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:0006-3606
Additional Information:Die 2 Autoren: Nuzuar und Nardiyono haben keine Vornamen, deshalb wurde die Anrede Mr eingetragen.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1744-7429.2010.00651.x

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