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Statistical power of dynamic occupancy models to identify temporal change: Informing the North American Bat Monitoring Program

June 6, 2019

Dynamic occupancy models provide a flexible framework for estimating and mapping species occupancy patterns
over space and time for large-scale monitoring programs (e.g., the North American Bat Monitoring Program
(NABat), the Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative). Challenges for designing surveys using the dynamic
occupancy modeling framework include defining appropriate derived trend parameters, and providing
usable tools for researchers to conduct project-specific sample size investigations. We present a simulation-based
power analysis framework for dynamic occupancy models that allows for the incorporation of the underlying
environmental space (i.e., as covariates) within a specific study region to inform sample size estimation. We
investigate two definitions of temporal trend: (1) a gradual, sustained (linear or nonlinear) change over a period
of many years, and (2) an abrupt increase or decrease between two time periods. We draw upon pilot data
collected following NABat protocols to inform assumed data generating values in a demonstration of our approach.
Due to the complicated parameter structure of dynamic occupancy models, we emphasize the importance
of visualizing simulated changes over time based on different parameter settings prior to conducting a
power analysis. Our simulations revealed that the linearity of short-term trends (five years in our investigation)
conferred higher power with lower sample size than longer trends where occupancy probabilities approached
zero (ten years in our investigation). We provide an example of how to use our tools to conduct customized
investigations using questions posed by NABat, and in doing so, we shed light on general guidelines that can be
applied to programs monitoring species occupancy for other taxa. Importantly, we created an R package to
execute our approach for informing program-, species-, and study-specific investigations aimed at identifying
changes in species occupancy.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2019
Title Statistical power of dynamic occupancy models to identify temporal change: Informing the North American Bat Monitoring Program
DOI 10.1016/j.ecolind.2019.05.047
Authors Katherine Banner, Kathryn M. Irvine, Tom J Rodhouse, Deahn M. Donner, Andrea R. Litt
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecological Indicators
Index ID 70203721
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center