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Using spatial capture-recapture to elucidate population processes and space-use in herpetological studies


D Muñoz

D Miller

Chris Sutherland

Evan Grant

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Secondary Title:
Journal of Herpetology
DOI: 10.1670/15-166


The cryptic behavior and ecology of herpetofauna make estimating the impacts of environmental change on demography difficult; yet, the ability to measure demographic relationships is essential for elucidating mechanisms leading to the population declines reported for herpetofauna worldwide. Recently developed spatial capture–recapture (SCR) methods are well suited to standard herpetofauna monitoring approaches. Individually identifying animals and their locations allows accurate estimates of population densities and survival. Spatial capture–recapture methods also allow estimation of parameters describing space-use and movement, which generally are expensive or difficult to obtain using other methods. In this paper, we discuss the basic components of SCR models, the available software for conducting analyses, and the experimental designs based on common herpetological survey methods. We then apply SCR models to Red-backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereus), to determine differences in density, survival, dispersal, and space-use between adult male and female salamanders. By highlighting the capabilities of SCR, and its advantages compared to traditional methods, we hope to give herpetologists the resource they need to apply SCR in their own systems.