Population estimation and trappability of the european badger (meles meles): implications for tuberculosis management
Byrne, Andrew W.
Sleeman, D. Paddy
Corner, Leigh A. L.
Martin, S. Wayne
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Byrne, Andrew W. O’Keeffe, James; Green, Stuart; Sleeman, D. Paddy; Corner, Leigh A. L.; Gormley, Eamonn; Murphy, Denise; Martin, S. Wayne; Davenport, John (2012). Population estimation and trappability of the european badger (meles meles): implications for tuberculosis management. PLoS ONE 7 (12),
Estimates of population size and trappability inform vaccine efficacy modelling and are required for adaptive management during prolonged wildlife vaccination campaigns. We present an analysis of mark-recapture data from a badger vaccine (Bacille Calmette-Guerin) study in Ireland. This study is the largest scale (755 km 2) mark-recapture study ever undertaken with this species. The study area was divided into three approximately equal-sized zones, each with similar survey and capture effort. A mean badger population size of 671 (SD: 76) was estimated using a closed-subpopulation model (CSpM) based on data from capturing sessions of the entire area and was consistent with a separate multiplicative model. Minimum number alive estimates calculated from the same data were on average 49-51% smaller than the CSpM estimates, but these are considered severely negatively biased when trappability is low. Population densities derived from the CSpM estimates were 0.82-1.06 badgers km 22, and broadly consistent with previous reports for an adjacent area. Mean trappability was estimated to be 34-35% per session across the population. By the fifth capture session, 79% of the adult badgers caught had been marked previously. Multivariable modelling suggested significant differences in badger trappability depending on zone, season and age-class. There were more putatively trap-wary badgers identified in the population than trap-happy badgers, but wariness was not related to individual's sex, zone or season of capture. Live-trapping efficacy can vary significantly amongst sites, seasons, age, or personality, hence monitoring of trappability is recommended as part of an adaptive management regime during large-scale wildlife vaccination programs to counter biases and to improve efficiencies. Citation: Byrne AW, O'Keeffe J, Green S, Sleeman DP, Corner LAL, et al. (2012) Population Estimation and Trappability of the European Badger (Meles meles): Implications for Tuberculosis Management. PLoS ONE 7(12): e50807. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0050807