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Journal Articles PLoS ONE Year : 2020

Distance sampling of duikers in the rainforest: Dealing with transect avoidance


Bushmeat is a major source of protein and income in tropical regions but is often over-harvested. A better monitoring of bushmeat stocks could help achieve sustainability. We used a combination of simulations and transect survey data collected from blue duikers (Philantomba monticola) in the Lomako wildlife reserve, Democratic Republic of the Congo, to investigate the use of transect-based distance sampling to monitor bushmeat stocks. The comparison of dung piles and direct observations of duikers evidenced that animals avoided both the transects in the absence of observers, and the observers themselves. This type of behavioural response appeared common in a literature survey. It causes a negative bias in the estimates of population densities from the standard distance sampling methodology. This negative bias would lead to over-pessimistic predictions of population viability, especially if the behavioural response is more intense in the locations where the animals are hunted. In turn, this would lead to excessively conservative management recommendations. To correct for the effect of the behavioural response of the animals to either the transects or the observers, we recommend recording both the forward and perpendicular distances to the observers (2D distance sampling), not just the perpendicular distance. We also recommend multiple-observer protocols. As a cautionary note, we also demonstrate a scenario where the intensity of the behavioural response is too high to reliably estimate the abundance of the population. As a perspective, we outline the general principles of a local stakeholder-based program combining distance sampling with less intensive types of ecological indicators to monitor wildlife populations.
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hal-02988391 , version 1 (10-01-2021)



Gaïus Elenga, Christophe Bonenfant, Guillaume Péron. Distance sampling of duikers in the rainforest: Dealing with transect avoidance. PLoS ONE, 2020, 15 (10), pp.e0240049. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0240049⟩. ⟨hal-02988391⟩
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