I ran a pilot study to determine the probability of detecting a rare African small carnivore using scat (feces) detection dog surveys to assist with future population monitoring and occupancy surveys. A primary objective is to determine the search effort (in kms traveled with sniffer dog) needed to have a 95% probability of detection. I trained two dogs over two seasons and tested the method on a telemetry monitoring site and all surveys were within known home-ranges from four collared animals (true site occupancy is known). Rectangular walking transects ranged from 1.6 to 3.2 kms in length. We recorded distance from start of transect to each scat found. We found 112 scats ranging from 0-5 per transect. Species ID was confirmed through DNA barcoding, I intended on doing individual ID, but could not get lab funding, thus only have species detections. I am a field biologist and it has been quite a few years since my MSc. I am struggling to find examples that are similar to my data structure and aims for guidance. Resources for direction or suggestions for data structure and programs/packages would be useful.

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site. May I recommend that you take a tour and visit the help center for more information on this site and about composing a good question/answer. $\endgroup$
    – bob1
    May 29, 2023 at 20:08
  • $\begingroup$ I'm assuming that you are looking to be able to detect unknown populations of this animal? If so, it seems to me that to get a 95% level you would need to test this on areas which are outside as well as inside known ranges, unless the animal has some very specific environmental requirements for habitat. Did you see this one? https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.2981/wlb.00393 $\endgroup$
    – bob1
    May 29, 2023 at 20:21
  • $\begingroup$ This might be a better for fit for CrossValidated, or for the [email protected] mailing list. Are you essentially trying to compute the expected effort required to detect at least one scat during a set of surveys? $\endgroup$
    – Ben Bolker
    May 31, 2023 at 14:09
  • $\begingroup$ I will check those lists thank you. I only surveyed in known HRs to control for Occupancy to evaluated detection probability (prob of detecting at least one scat) as a function of effort (in kms moved) and influence of co-variates (dog, weather etc). Thus as distance increases, detection probability should increase. I also want to do the same with spotlight distance sampling (visual observation). The goal is to provide survey recommendations for EIAs and presence/absence surveys to develop habitat suitability models. $\endgroup$
    – Michelle
    Jun 1, 2023 at 16:35


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