Mollet, P., M. Kéry, B. Gardner, G. Pasinelli & J. A. Royle (2015)

Estimating Population Size for Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus L.) with Spatial Capture- Recapture Models Based on Genotypes from One Field Sample

Further information

PLoS ONE 10: e0129020






We conducted a survey of an endangered and cryptic forest grouse, the capercaillie Tetrao urogallus, based on droppings collected on two sampling occasions in eight forest fragments in central Switzerland in early spring 2009. We used genetic analyses to sex and individually identify birds. We estimated sex-dependent detection probabilities and population size using a modern spatial capture-recapture (SCR) model for the data from pooled surveys. A total of 127 capercaillie genotypes were identified (77 males, 46 females, and 4 of unknown sex). The SCR model yielded a total population size estimate (posterior mean) of 137.3 capercaillies (posterior sd 4.2, 95% CRI 130–147). The observed sex ratio was skewed towards males (0.63). The posterior mean of the sex ratio under the SCR model was 0.58 (posterior sd 0.02, 95% CRI 0.54–0.61), suggesting a male-biased sex ratio in our study area. A subsampling simulation study indicated that a reduced sampling effort representing 75% of the actual detections would still yield practically acceptable estimates of total size and sex ratio in our population. Hence, field work and financial effort could be reduced without compromising accuracy when the SCR model is used to estimate key population parameters of cryptic species.