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Aquatic Biology

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AB 16:31-52 (2012)  -  DOI:

Monitoring marine populations and communities: methods dealing with imperfect detectability

S. Katsanevakis1,2,*, A. Weber3, C. Pipitone4, M. Leopold5, M. Cronin6, M. Scheidat5, T. K. Doyle6, L. Buhl‑Mortensen7, P. Buhl-Mortensen7, G. D’Anna4, I. de Boois5, P. Dalpadado7, D. Damalas1,8, F. Fiorentino9, G. Garofalo9, V. M. Giacalone4, K. L. Hawley3, Y. Issaris1, J. Jansen5, C. M. Knight3, L. Knittweis10, I. Kröncke11, S. Mirto12, I. Muxika13, H. Reiss11,14, H. R. Skjoldal7, S. Vöge11

1Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR), 46.7 km Athens-Sounio, 19013 Anavyssos, Greece
2European Commission, JRC, IES, Water Resources Unit, Ispra (VA), Italy; 3Norwegian Institute for Water Research, Trondheim, Norway; 4CNR-IAMC, Castellammare del Golfo (TP), Italy; 5Institute for Marine Resources and Ecosystem Studies, IJmuiden, The Netherlands; 6Coastal & Marine Research Centre, University College Cork, Ireland; 7Institute of Marine Research, Bergen, Norway; 8European Commission, JRC, IPSC, Maritime Affairs Unit, Ispra (VA), Italy; 9 CNR-IAMC, UOS di Mazara del Vallo, Mazara del Vallo (TP), Italy; 10Capture Fisheries Section, Ministry for Resources and Rural Affairs, Marsaxlokk, Malta; 11Senckenberg am Meer, Marine Research Department, Wilhelmshaven, Germany; 12CNR-IAMC, UOS di Messina, Messina, Italy; 13AZTI - Tecnalia / Marine Research Division, Pasaia, Spain; 14University of Nordland, Faculty of Biosciences and Aquaculture, Bodø, Norway
author addresses are given in the supplement at

ABSTRACT: Effective monitoring of populations and communities is a prerequisite for ecosystem-based management of marine areas. However, monitoring programs often neglect important sources of error and thus can lead to biased estimates, spurious conclusions and false management actions. One such source of error is ‘imperfect detectability’, i.e. the inability of investigators to detect all individuals or all species in a surveyed area. Although there has been great effort to develop monitoring methods that account for imperfect detectability, the application of such methods in the marine environment is not as apparent as in other systems. Plot sampling is by far the most commonly applied method for biological monitoring in the marine environment, yet it largely ignores detectability issues. However, distance sampling, mark-recapture methods, repeated presence-absence surveys for occupancy estimation, and removal methods do estimate detection probabilities and provide unbiased estimates of state variables. We review these methods and the relevant tools for their application in studies on marine populations and communities, with the aim of assisting marine biologists and managers to understand the limitations and pitfalls associated with some approaches and to select the best available methods for their monitoring needs.

KEY WORDS: Biological monitoring · Detectability · Distance sampling · Mark-recapture · Occupancy · Plot sampling · Removal methods · Review

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Cite this article as: Katsanevakis S, Weber A, Pipitone C, Leopold M and others (2012) Monitoring marine populations and communities: methods dealing with imperfect detectability. Aquat Biol 16:31-52.

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