Estimating the Population Size and Colony Boundary of Subterranean Termites by Using the Density Functions of Directionally Averaged Capture Probability

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Marked termites were released in a linear-connected foraging arena, and the spatial heterogeneity of their capture probabilities was averaged for both directions at distance r from release point to obtain a symmetrical distribution, from which the density function of directionally averaged capture probability P(x) was derived. We hypothesized that as marked termites move into the population and given sufficient time, the directionally averaged capture probability may reach an equilibrium P e over the distance r and thus satisfy the equal mixing assumption of the mark–recapture protocol. The equilibrium capture probability P e was used to estimate the population size N. The hypothesis was tested in a 50-m extended foraging arena to simulate the distance factor of field colonies of subterranean termites. Over the 42-d test period, the density functions of directionally averaged capture probability P(x) exhibited four phases: exponential decline phase, linear decline phase, equilibrium phase, and postequilibrium phase. The equilibrium capture probability P e , derived as the intercept of the linear regression during the equilibrium phase, correctly projected N estimates that were not significantly different from the known number of workers in the arena. Because the area beneath the probability density function is a constant (50% in this study), preequilibrium regression parameters and P e were used to estimate the population boundary distance l, which is the distance between the release point and the boundary beyond which the population is absent.

Keywords: Coptotermes formosanus; Isoptera; markÔÇôrecapture protocol; population estimate; probability density function

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2008

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  • Journal of Economic Entomology is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December. The journal publishes articles on the economic significance of insects and is divided into the following sections: apiculture & social insects; arthropods in relation to plant disease; forum; insecticide resistance and resistance management; ecotoxicology; biological and microbial control; ecology and behavior; sampling and biostatistics; household and structural insects; medical entomology; molecular entomology; veterinary entomology; forest entomology; horticultural entomology; field and forage crops, and small grains; stored-product; commodity treatment and quarantine entomology; and plant resistance. In addition to research papers, Journal of Economic Entomology publishes Letters to the Editor, interpretive articles in a Forum section, Short Communications, Rapid Communications, and Book Reviews.
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