Cost-benefit analysis of acoustic recorders as a solution to sampling challenges experienced monitoring cryptic species

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2018
Authors:Williams, O'Donnell, Armstrong
Journal:Ecology and Evolution
Date Published:Feb-06-2019

The inferences that can be made from any study are limited by the quality of the sampling design. By bad luck, when monitoring species that are difficult to detect (cryptic), sampling designs become dictated by what is feasible rather than what is desired. We calibrated and conducted a cost‐benefit analysis of four acoustic recorder options that were being considered as potential solutions to several sampling restrictions experienced while monitoring the Australasian bittern, a cryptic wetland bird. Such sampling restrictions are commonly experienced while monitoring many different endangered species, particularly those that are cryptic. The recorder options included mono and stereo devices, with two sound file processing options (visual and audible analysis). Recording devices provided call‐count data similar to those collected by field observers but at a fraction of the cost, which meant that “idealistic” sampling regimes, previously thought to be too expensive, became feasible for bitterns. Our study is one of the few to assess the monetary value of recording devices in the context of data quality, allowing trade‐offs (and potential solutions) commonly experienced while monitoring cryptic endangered species to be shown and compared more clearly. The ability to overcome challenges of monitoring cryptic species in this way increases research possibilities for data deficient species and is applicable to any species with similar monitoring challenges.

Short Title:Ecol Evol
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Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith