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Data from: Proxies in practice: calibration and validation of multiple indices of animal abundance


Falcy, Matthew R.; McCormick, Joshua L.; Miller, Shelly A. (2016), Data from: Proxies in practice: calibration and validation of multiple indices of animal abundance, Dryad, Dataset,


The abundance of individuals in a population is a fundamental metric in basic and applied ecology, but sampling protocols yielding precise and unbiased estimates of abundance are often cost prohibitive. Proxies of abundance are therefore common, but require calibration and validation. There are many ways to calibrate a proxy, and it is not obvious which will perform best. We use data from eight populations of Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) on the Oregon coast where multiple proxies of abundance were obtained contemporaneously with independent mark-recapture estimates. We combined multiple proxy values associated with a single level of abundance into a univariate index and then calibrated that index to mark-recapture estimates using several different techniques. We tested our calibration methods using leave-one-out cross validation and simulation. Our cross-validation analysis did not definitively identify a single best calibration technique for all populations, but we could identify consistently inferior approaches. The simulations suggested that incorporating the known mark-recapture uncertainty into the calibration technique added bias and imprecision. Cross validation techniques should be used to test multiple methods of calibrating multiple proxies to an estimate of abundance. Critical uncertainties with the application of calibrated proxies still exist, and cost-benefit analysis should be performed to help identify optimal monitoring designs.

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