The British Herpetological Society

The Herpetological Journal is the Society's prestigious quarterly scientific journal. Articles are listed in Biological Abstracts, Current Awareness in Biological Sciences,Current Contents, Science Citation Index, and Zoological Record.

 ISSN 0268-0130

2020 Impact Factor for the Herpetological Journal is 0.862

pdf 01. Bias in estimation of newt population size a field study at five ponds using drift fences, pitfalls and funnel traps


Open Access


Authors: Klaus Weddeling, Monika Hachtel, Ulrich Sander And David Tarkhnishvili

Abstract: Drift fences are frequently used to sample amphibians for population studies. Thus, some researchers do not mark animals, but use capture rates at the drift fence as an indicator of population size. Other workers use mark-recapture techniques to estimate population sizes. These approaches require different amounts of effort and lead to different results. Our study compares several estimates of population size for alpine newts (Triturus alpestris) and smooth newts (Triturus vulgaris) in five breeding ponds surrounded by pennanent drift fences and pitfall traps. The estimates based on mark-recapture techniques (Petersen method) do not vary substantially between the two modes of recapture applied (funnel traps, and drift fences with pitfall traps). These estimates give even better results than simple counts if a substantial part of the newt populations remain within the drift fences throughout the year. While unrecognized trespass by newts appears to be a rare event, some newts may leave a pond for a short time even during the breeding season. This is an important source of bias for population estimates in studies based on counts at drift fences when animals are not marked.

Keywords: capture methods, mark-recapture, Triturus alpestris, Triturus vulgaris

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Please note that as from Volume 31 Number 1 (January 2021) on, the Herpetological Journal will be available as an online publication only - the last print edition will be Volume 30 Number 4.   

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