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The superpopulation approach for estimating the population size of 'prolonged' breeding amphibians: Examples from Europe

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Individual members of a population of 'prolonged' breeding amphibian species are asynchronously present at their breeding sites. Therefore, population size estimates can be misleading when based on commonly used closed or open-population capture-mark-recapture approaches. The superpopulation approach, a modified Jolly-Seber model, has been successfully applied in taxa other than amphibians with distinct migratory behaviour and where individuals are asynchronously present at the sampling site. In this paper, we suggest that the superpopulation approach is a useful population size estimator for 'prolonged' breeding amphibian species. Two case studies on European anurans show that superpopulation estimates are much higher than simple population counts. A simulation study showed that superpopulation estimates are unbiased but that accuracy can be low when either survival or detection probabilities (or both) are low. We recommend the superpopulation approach because it matches the natural history and phenology of amphibian species with prolonged breeding seasons.

Affiliations: 1: Trier University, Department of Biogeography, 54286 Trier, Germany;, Email:; 2: KARCH, Passage Maximilien-de-Meuron 6, 2000 Neuchâtel, Switzerland, A. Maibach Sàrl, Ch. de la Poya 10, CP 99, 1610 Oronla-Ville, Switzerland; 3: Trier University, Department of Biogeography, 54286 Trier, Germany; 4: KARCH, Passage Maximilien-de-Meuron 6, 2000 Neuchâtel, Switzerland, Institut für Evolutionsbiologie und Umweltwissenschaften, Universität Zürich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, 8057 Zürich, Switzerland


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