The validity and precision of spotlighting for surveying desert mammal communities

Dawn Scott, S. Waite, T.M. Maddox, R.A. Freer, N. Dunstone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigated the validity of spotlighting techniques for surveying and monitoring desert mammal populations by determining the effect of repeating spotlight transects on the relative precision of density estimates. Precision was modelled by calculating cumulative mean density and associated coefficient of variation. The effect of moonlight at the time of surveying was also investigated. The results show that spotlighting is a valid technique for monitoring some species, however the number of transects required to obtain pre-defined adequate levels of precision is species-dependent. Reasons for these findings are discussed and recommendations for future spotlight surveys for monitoring desert mammal populations are given.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-601
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2005


  • Density
  • Fox
  • Hare
  • Jerboa
  • Jordan
  • Precision
  • Spotlighting
  • Strip-transect


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