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A comparison of methods for kangaroo population monitoring

Johnson, Matthew (2019) A comparison of methods for kangaroo population monitoring. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Context. Macropods represent a multimillion-dollar industry within Australia, with multiple states employing management and commercial culling operations. All states require monitoring of abundance and distribution to target quotas and management actions. Terrestrial transect techniques such as walked transect survey (WTS) have been traditionally used in the peri-urban context, although new techniques and technologies are emerging. Remote Piloted Aerial System Survey (RPASS), and Camera Trapping (CT) are two such technologies with growing use in wildlife population monitoring, and there exists the need to compare their implementation over WTS methods. Aims. This study compared a WTS, RPASS and CT methods to estimate the abundance of Macropus fuliginosus in an enclosed peri-urban reserve to evaluate the use of these technologies for estimating macropod populations at a small scale. Methods. Survey of M. fuliginosus at a peri-urban reserve (Thompsons Lake, Perth, Western Australia) was carried out over two sampling periods (April: summer and August: winter). Data were analysed using Distance Sampling for both WTS and RPASS, and a spatially correlated detection model for CT survey. Key results. WTS yielded the highest population estimate and variability of all techniques [April: 1687±216, August: 2773±760 kangaroos in the reserve], with RPASS generating number estimates around half of these (with less variability) [April: 796±225, August:1326±365 kangaroos in the reserve]. Estimates derived from CT were unreliable due to statistical method variability. Conclusions. This study finds that RPASS and CT both have significant potential for future survey of Macropus populations; however, does not recommend implementation for monitoring of population number, until further study occurs. CT is highly subject to requirements of the modelling method; and whilst RPAS technology provides a number of benefits detection bias precludes its broad-scale adoption at this time. Implications. CT and RPAS exhibit a number of benefits that would make them ideal for future use in management of Macropus spp. provided that sufficient research can be conducted to overcome the current limitations which inherently bias their estimates, and hence limit their employability

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Supervisor(s): Fleming, Trish and Adams, Peter
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