Spatial Capture-Recapture: A Promising Method for Analyzing Data Collected Using Artificial Cover Objects

Chris Sutherland*, David J. Muñoz, David A.W. Miller, Evan H.Campbell Grant

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Spatial capture-recapture (SCR) is a relatively recent development in ecological statistics that provides a spatial context for estimating abundance and space use patterns, and improves inference about absolute population density. SCR has been applied to individual encounter data collected noninvasively using methods such as camera traps, hair snares, and scat surveys. Despite the widespread use of capture-based surveys to monitor amphibians and reptiles, there are few applications of SCR in the herpetological literature. We demonstrate the utility of the application of SCR for studies of reptiles and amphibians by analyzing capture-recapture data from Red-Backed Salamanders, Plethodon cinereus, collected using artificial cover boards. Using SCR to analyze spatial encounter histories of marked individuals, we found evidence that density differed little among four sites within the same forest (on average, 1.59 salamanders/m2) and that salamander detection probability peaked in early October (Julian day 278) reflecting expected surface activity patterns of the species. The spatial scale of detectability, a measure of space use, indicates that the home range size for this population of Red-Backed Salamanders in autumn was 16.89 m2. Surveying reptiles and amphibians using artificial cover boards regularly generates spatial encounter history data of known individuals, which can readily be analyzed using SCR methods, providing estimates of absolute density and inference about the spatial scale of habitat use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-12
Number of pages7
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016


  • Abundance
  • Amphibian
  • Cover boards
  • Density
  • Detection
  • Home range
  • New York
  • Plethodon cinereus
  • Red-Backed Salamanders
  • Spatially explicit capture-recapture


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