Population monitoring is an essential component of endangered species recovery programs. The federally endangered Diamond Darter Crystallaria cincotta is in need of an effective monitoring design to improve our understanding of its distribution and track population trends. Because of their small size, cryptic coloration, and nocturnal behavior, along with limitations associated with current sampling methods, individuals are difficult to detect at known occupied sites. Therefore, research is needed to determine if survey efforts can be improved by increasing probability of individual detection. The primary objective of this study was to determine if there are seasonal and diel patterns in Diamond Darter detectability during population surveys. In addition to temporal factors, we also assessed five habitat variables that might influence individual detection. We used N-mixture models to estimate site abundances and relationships between covariates and individual detectability and ranked models using Akaike's information criteria. During 2015 three known occupied sites were sampled 15 times each between May and Oct. The best supported model included water temperature as a quadratic function influencing individual detectability, with temperatures around 22 C resulting in the highest detection probability. Detection probability when surveying at the optimal temperature was approximately 6% and 7.5% greater than when surveying at 16 C and 29 C, respectively. Time of Night and day of year were not strong predictors of Diamond Darter detectability. The results of this study will allow researchers and agencies to maximize detection probability when surveying populations, resulting in greater monitoring efficiency and likely more precise abundance estimates.
Rizzo, A. A., Brown, D. J., Welsh, S. A., & Thompson, P. A. (2017). Factors Influencing Detection of the Federally Endangered Diamond Darter Crystallaria cincotta: Implications for Long-Term Monitoring Strategies. American Midland Naturalist, 178(1), 123–131. https://doi.org/10.1674/0003-0031-178.1.123