Flawed Method puts Tiger Rise in Doubt

The following is a press release about the Methods paper ‘An examination of index-calibration experiments: counting tigers at macroecological scales‘ taken from the University of Oxford News and Events page:

Flaws in a method commonly used in censuses of tigers and other rare wildlife put the accuracy of such surveys in doubt, a new study suggests.

A team of scientists from theNH_QT_K2934024 University of Oxford, Indian Statistical Institute, and Wildlife Conservation Society exposes, for the first time, inherent shortcomings in the ‘index-calibration’ method that means it can produce inaccurate results. Amongst recent studies thought to be based on this method is India’s national tiger survey (January 2015) which claimed a surprising but welcome 30 percent rise in tiger numbers in just four years.

The team urges conservation practitioners to guard against these sources of error, which could mislead even the best conservation efforts, and suggests a constructive way forward using alternative methods of counting rare animals that avoid the pitfalls of the index-calibration approach.

A report of the research is published this week in the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution.

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