Doing my dissertation on the long term trends in moth populations. I am looking at the trends of specific species. Is there a method to obtain an estimate of total population from smaller samples?

  • $\begingroup$ Do you mean estimate of population size? From what kind of samples? Do you have genetic data? do you have capture-recapture data, ...? $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Mar 12, 2018 at 20:44
  • $\begingroup$ The point of a statistical test is not give you an estimate, it is to test a null hypothesis. $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Mar 12, 2018 at 20:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Remi.b I disagree with the statement that statistical tests are used only to test null hypotheses. Statistical tests can be used to estimate population parameters, of which population size is one. $\endgroup$
    – kmm
    Mar 12, 2018 at 21:42
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    $\begingroup$ Why is this "too broad"? This is a very specific question on which there is a large and relevant literature. Just because you're not familiar with the topic doesn't mean it's off topic. $\endgroup$
    – iayork
    Mar 13, 2018 at 12:03
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    $\begingroup$ @iayork I agree, this should be reopened. The Q could show more effort and background, but I dont find it too broad. $\endgroup$ Mar 15, 2018 at 20:34

1 Answer 1


I'm assuming you're asking how to estimate population size based on numbers of individuals you capture. Yes, there are many approaches to this. The R library SPECIES-R offers a number of methods of calculating this. They are described in the manuscript SPECIES: An R Package for Species Richness Estimation. Some of the methods described are:

  • Chao, A. (1984), Nonparametric Estimation of the Number of Classes in a Population, Scandinavian Journal of Statistics, 11, 265-270.
  • Norris, J. L. I., and Pollock, K. H.(1998), Non-Parametric MLE for Poisson Species Abundance Models Allowing for Heterogeneity Between Species, Environmental and Ecological Statistics, 5, 391-402.
  • Chao, A., and Bunge, J. (2002), Estimating the Number of Species in a Stochastic Abundance Model, Biometrics, 58, 531-539.

and many more.

  • $\begingroup$ ±1 for your well referenced answer. My motto still is that a good answer can make the question. Perhaps you could add a little background in the question post. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Mar 15, 2018 at 21:52

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