A brief history of the many faces of detection in ecology and wildlife management
- Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
In the early years of the development of ecological methods, detection was considered a relatively simple parameter to estimate. The early closed population estimation techniques of Lincoln and Petersen and the more sophisticated open population models of Leslie, Chitty, Chitty and Jolly, and Seber assumed a relative ease of estimating the detection probability. Wildlife ecologists who knew their animals were always concerned about unequal catchability, and fisheries biologists like Ricker provided models to compensate for unequal catchability in fishery estimation, but it was not until the Colorado mafia published their monograph in 1978 on a series of models that allowed for certain classes of unequal detection that the problem was formalized for closed populations in Program CAPTURE. From the mid-1970s there was a groundswell of publications and a generation of cooperation between mathematicians and ecologists to attack the problem of detection, not only for population estimation but more importantly for disease analysis and pest management. This new synthesis of mathematical and statistical power with ecological insights of the clever ways that animals and plants avoid detection has produced a series of methods that recognised as a critical part of wildlife management in this century.