Using occupancy models to accommodate uncertainty in the interpretation of aerial photograph data: status of beaver in central Oregon, USA

Authors: Chris A Pearl; Michael J Adams; P K Haggerty; L Urban
Contribution Number: 496


Beavers (Castor canadensis) influence habitat for many species and pose challenges in developed landscapes. They are increasingly viewed as a cost?efficient means of riparian habitat restoration and water storage. Still, information on their status is rare, particularly in western North America. We used aerial photography to evaluate changes in beaver occupancy between 1942–1968 and 2009 in upper portions of 2 large watersheds in Oregon, USA. We used multiple observers and occupancy modeling to account for bias related to photo quality, observers, and imperfect detection of beaver impoundments. Our analysis suggested a slightly higher rate of beaver occupancy in the upper Deschutes than the upper Klamath basin. We found weak evidence for beaver increases in the west and declines in eastern parts of the study area. Our study presents a method for dealing with observer variation in photo interpretation and provides the first assessment of the extent of beaver influence in 2 basins with major water?use challenges. Published 2015. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.

Publication details
Published Date: 2015-02-27
Outlet/Publisher: Wildlife Society Bulletin 39:1944-1963
Media Format: .PDF

ARMI Organizational Units:
Pacific Northwest - Biology
Quantitative Developments; Species and their Ecology
Place Names:
detection; habitat; habitat effects; methods; pond-breeding amphibians; restoration; threatened species; wetlands; wildlife habitat
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