Project title: Interactive tool for estimating abundance of wildlife populations (WildPop)
Project number: PN-III-P2-2.1-PED-2021-1965; Proiect experimental demonstrativ (PED)
Contract no.: PED699/2022
Funding body: Executive Agency for Higher Education, Research, Development and Innovation Funding (UEFISCDI)
Budget: 598 669 RON
- Dr. Laurentiu Rozylowicz (principal investigator)
- Dr. Viorel D. Popescu (co-principal investigator)
- Dr. Andreea Nita
- Dr. Raluca I. Bancila
- Dr. Steluta Manolache
- Dr. Simona R. Gradinaru
- PhD student Marian D. Mirea
Estimating species abundance is one of the most challenging and important question in wildlife management. To obtain data on wildlife populations, two field methods are widely used worldwide: traditional mark-recapture techniques, where every detected individual can be uniquely identified, and occupancy-type modeling, where individuals cannot be uniquely identified. Data for occupancy-type analyses can be obtained by sign surveys and camera traps. Sign and camera traps are easy to deploy, however, they require rigorous sampling protocols and advanced statistical analyses, e.g. via R software platform, package „unmarked”. R platform is widely used for ecological modeling, however, complex methods such as those included in the „unmarked” package can be explored only by modelers with very good programming skills and a throughout understanding of hierarchical analysis of population data. The scope of the WildPop proposal is to improve wildlife estimation in Romania by developing, testing, and deploying a user-friendly interactive tool for population assessment based on data collected by scientists and citizens and state-of-the-art hierarchical models. Apart from other projects, ones that have as an objective the monitoring of wildlife, our work aims to evaluate the outcomes of wildlife estimation projects, evaluate the weaknesses and strengths of using occupancy-type modeling in Romania, and construct a streamlined workflow for estimating wildlife abundance and occupancy using remote cameras and transects. Wildlife practitioners will have a reliable framework for planning and deploying robust animal monitoring programs and produce practical conservation measures with minimal associated costs.
- O1: To review the use and outcomes of wildlife estimation initiatives in Romania, with a focus on species of E.U. conservation concern – brown bears, wolves, lynx;
- O2: To co-create with stakeholders a guideline for developing cost-effective and robust local wildlife monitoring protocols for unmarked individuals;
- O3: To develop a tailored web-based application for single-season occupancy and single-season wildlife abundance using R Shiny framework;
- O4: To unlock the development of statistically robust wildlife monitoring services by training interested parties such as public authorities, wildlife managers, and consultants.
- Documenting best practices în creating Shiny apps for population ecology;
- Roadmap for WILDPOP app development;
- Wildlife monitoring guidelines (including stand-alone R code);
- Interactive Shiny app for estimation of single-season occupancy and abundance (including user manual);
- Testing Interactive R Shiny app during two workshops with potential users;
- Dissemination of results by participating in scientific conferences and scientific articles (participation at 5 conferences and submission of a minimum of 2 scientific articles).