Population surveying and monitoring are important for identifying conservation needs and tracking trends in populations, communities, and ecosystems over time and laying the groundwork for conservation management and policy decisions. If species or populations go undetected because of inadequate effort or sampling design, protection and management cannot be properly provided. Due to the widespread loss of populations, the Eastern Massasauga (a rattlesnake) was recently listed as a federally threatened species in the United States; it is also listed as threatened in Canada. Given its current conservation status, there is considerable interest at state and federal levels in determining how to best survey for Eastern Massasaugas to aid in management decisions. Using a 16-year dataset, we examined the relationships among environmental, temporal, area, management, and search effort factors on the detection probability of Eastern Massasaugas. We found that four abiotic parameters (solar irradiance, shaded air temperature, three-day maximum air temperature, and humidity) and three search parameters (effort per researcher, search area, and search time of day) influenced detection of Eastern Massasaugas. As the current biodiversity crisis continues, the cost-effective use of resources and scientific expertise will continue to increase in importance. We hope our results stimulate similar analyses in other taxa, which will be critical for designing and implementing regional survey and monitoring programs.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited