Relationships of catch-per-unit-effort metrics with abundance vary depending on sampling method and population trajectory

Maximilian L. Allen, Nathan M. Roberts, Javan M. Bauder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE) is often used to monitor wildlife populations and to develop statistical population models. Animals caught and released are often not included in CPUE metrics and their inclusion may create more accurate indices of abundance. We used 21 years of detailed harvest records for bobcat (Lynx rufus) in Wisconsin, U.S.A., to calculate CPUE and ‘actual CPUE’ (ACPUE; including animals caught and released) from bobcat hunters and trappers. We calibrated these metrics to an independent estimate of bobcat abundance and attempted to create simple but effective models to estimate CPUE and ACPUE using harvest success data (i.e., bobcats harvested/available permits). CPUE showed virtually no relationship with bobcat abundance across all years, but both CPUE and ACPUE had stronger, non-linear, and negative relationships with abundance during the periods when the population was decreasing. Annual harvest success strongly predicted composite ACPUE and CPUE from hunters and trappers and hunter ACPUE and CPUE but was a poorer predictor of trapper ACPUE and CPUE. The non-linear, and sometimes weak, relationships with bobcat abundance likely reflect the increasing selectivity of bobcat hunters for trophy animals. Studies calibrating per-unit-effort metrics against abundance should account for population trajectories and different harvest methods (e.g., hunting and trapping). Our results also highlight the potential for estimating per-unit-effort metrics from relatively simple and inexpensive data sources and we encourage additional research into the use of per-unit-effort metrics for population estimation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0233444
JournalPloS one
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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