Tracking tunnels are widely used for monitoring small mammal populations, but inference on population size is hindered by the non-linear relationship between frequency of detection and abundance. The detection-abundance relationship can be used to relate the probability of a tunnel being tracked to the abundance of animals in the population and the population growth rate.
A simple deterministic accounting model was used to predict the rate at which a colonising stoat (Mustela erminea L.) population would reach specified sizes. The model was used to explore how the size and composition of the founder population, and the survival schedule to which it was exposed, influenced this rate. A function used in disease surveillance was modified to predict the number of tracking tunnels necessary to detect the presence of the colonising Population with a specified degree of confidence.