U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Scientific Reports (2020) 10:2047



US gov't work


A critical element in effective wildlife management is monitoring the status of wildlife populations; however, resources to monitor wildlife populations are typically limited. We compared cost effectiveness of three common population estimation methods (i.e. non-invasive DNA sampling, camera sampling, and sampling from trapping) by applying them to wild pigs (Sus scrofa) across three habitats in South Carolina, U.S.A where they are invasive. We used mark-recapture analyses for fecal DNA sampling data, spatially-explicit capture-recapture analyses for camera sampling data, and a removal analysis for removal sampling from trap data. Density estimates were similar across methods. Camera sampling was the least expensive, but had large variances. Fecal DNA sampling was the most expensive, although this technique generally performed well. We examined how reductions in effort by method related to increases in relative bias or imprecision. For removal sampling, the largest cost savings while maintaining unbiased density estimates was from reducing the number of traps. For fecal DNA sampling, a reduction in effort only minimally reduced costs due to the need for increased lab replicates while maintaining high quality estimates. For camera sampling, effort could only be marginally reduced before inducing bias. We provide a decision tree for researchers to help make monitoring decisions.