Research Output

Estimating abundance of striped hyenas (Hyaena hyaena) in the Negev Desert of Israel using camera traps and closed capture–recapture models

  Estimating key state variables (e.g., abundance/density) of threatened/endangered species is a difficult yet crucial task. These variables are essential for wildlife conservationists/managers to assess the current states and trends of target populations and make state-dependent management decisions. We estimated, using camera traps and two different methodologies, the abundance of the near-threatened striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena) in the Negev Highlands, Israel. Both the traditional closed capture–recapture (closed-CR) and the census/near-census frameworks (both rely on closed CR models) were employed. For attaining a census/near census, we calculated a range of plausible capture/detection probabilities and their combinations with sampling durations that would result in detection of ≥95% of the target population. We then covered a subsection (circa 400 km2) of the Negev Highlands using 15 camera traps for 83 days. This targeted sampling provides a strong indication for attaining a census/near census for capture/detection probabilities as low as p = 0.05. The closed CR models (M0 and Mb) yielded a model averaged estimates of abundance N ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ˆ N¯^ = 7 (SE 1.94E-05, PLCI 7-7) and capture/detection probability p ¯ ¯ ¯ ˆ p¯^ = 0.09 (SE 0.033, 95% CI 0.05–0.18). Using the estimated p ¯ ¯ ¯ ˆ p¯^, we calculated that during the sampling, we (ostensibly) captured the entire (99.9%) target population. Additionally, we used spatially explicit capture–recapture (SECR) approach to estimate the density of the hyenas in a subsection of our study area where hyenas were spotted and got an estimate of D ˆ D^ = 0.085 individuals/km2 (SE 0.0334, 95% CI 0.040–0.178) or 8.5 individuals/100 km2. Many studies estimate abundance/density of threatened/endangered species using closed CR models; however, for small populations of elusive animals, these models often yield less accurate estimates exactly where accuracy is needed the most. While it likely increases the costs and time, the census/near-census framework provides a more accurate solution for such cases.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    08 December 2016

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher

    Springer Nature

  • DOI:


  • Cross Ref:


  • ISSN:


  • Library of Congress:

    QH Natural history

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    591 Specific topics in natural history


Tichon, J., Rotem, G., & Ward, P. (2017). Estimating abundance of striped hyenas (Hyaena hyaena) in the Negev Desert of Israel using camera traps and closed capture–recapture models. European journal of wildlife research, 63(1),



Census, Closed CR models, Key state variables, Threaten/endangered species, Population size estimation, Small population

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