Evaluating monitoring methods to guide adaptive management of a threatened amphibian (Litoria aurea)



Prompt detection of declines in abundance or distribution of populations is critical when managing threatened species that have high population turnover. Population monitoring programs provide the tools necessary to identify and detect decreases in abundance that will threaten the persistence of key populations and should occur in an adaptive management framework which designs monitoring to maximize detection and minimize effort. We monitored a population of Litoria aurea at Sydney Olympic Park over 5 years using mark–recapture, capture encounter, noncapture encounter, auditory, tadpole trapping, and dip-net surveys. The methods differed in the cost, time, and ability to detect changes in the population. Only capture encounter surveys were able to simultaneously detect a decline in the occupancy, relative abundance, and recruitment of frogs during the surveys. The relative abundance of L. aurea during encounter surveys correlated with the population size obtained from mark–recapture surveys, and the methods were therefore useful for detecting a change in the population. Tadpole trapping and auditory surveys did not predict overall abundance and were therefore not useful in detecting declines. Monitoring regimes should determine optimal survey times to identify periods where populations have the highest detectability. Once this has been achieved, capture encounter surveys provide a cost-effective method of effectively monitoring trends in occupancy, changes in relative abundance, and detecting recruitment in populations.