Incorporating detectability of threatened species into environmental impact assessment

Garrard, G, Bekessy, S, McCarthy, M and Wintle, B 2015, 'Incorporating detectability of threatened species into environmental impact assessment', Conservation Biology, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 216-225.


Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

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Title Incorporating detectability of threatened species into environmental impact assessment
Author(s) Garrard, G
Bekessy, S
McCarthy, M
Wintle, B
Year 2015
Journal name Conservation Biology
Volume number 29
Issue number 1
Start page 216
End page 225
Total pages 10
Publisher Blackwell Publishing Inc.
Abstract Environmental impact assessment (EIA) is a key mechanism for protecting threatened plant and animal species. Many species are not perfectly detectable and, even when present, may remain undetected during EIA surveys, increasing the risk of site-level loss or extinction of species. Numerous methods now exist for estimating detectability of plants and animals. Despite this, regulations concerning survey protocol and effort during EIAs fail to adequately address issues of detectability. Probability of detection is intrinsically linked to survey effort; thus, minimum survey effort requirements are a useful way to address the risks of false absences. We utilized 2 methods for determining appropriate survey effort requirements during EIA surveys. One method determined the survey effort required to achieve a probability of detection of 0.95 when the species is present. The second method estimated the survey effort required to either detect the species or reduce the probability of presence to 0.05. We applied these methods to Pimelea spinscens subsp. spinescens, a critically endangered grassland plant species in Melbourne, Australia. We detected P. spinescens in only half of the surveys undertaken at sites where it was known to exist. Estimates of the survey effort required to detect the species or demonstrate its absence with any confidence were much higher than the effort traditionally invested in EIA surveys for this species. We argue that minimum survey requirements be established for all species listed under threatened species legislation and hope that our findings will provide an impetus for collecting, compiling, and synthesizing quantitative detectability estimates for a broad range of plant and animal species.
Subject Land Use and Environmental Planning
Environmental Impact Assessment
Keyword(s) Biological surveys
False absence
Pimelea spinescens
Time to detection
DOI - identifier 10.1111/cobi.12351
Copyright notice © 2014 Society for Conservation Biology
ISSN 0888-8892
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