Having an accurate estimate of population size and density is imperative to the conservation of chelonian species and a central objective of many monitoring programs. Capture–recapture and related methods are widely used to obtain information about population size of chelonians. However, classical capture–recapture methods have strict spatial sampling requirements and do not account for lack of geographic closure caused by movement of individuals in and out of the surveyed landscape. Newly developed spatial capture–recapture (SCR) models address these limitations by specification of explicit models for spatial sampling as well as the spatial distribution of individuals in the population. Spatial capture–recapture models have not yet been applied to the study of chelonian populations. Here we demonstrate their application to a population of box turtles in Maryland that has been studied for 75 yr. Results support dramatic declines in population size of box turtles since the 1940s.

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