BOOKS: Wildlife Demography

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, Jine 2006:

Wildlife Demography: Analysis of Sex, Age, & Count Data
by John R. Skalski , Kristen E. Ryding, & Joshua J. Millspaugh
Elsevier Academic Press (30 Corp. Dr., Suite 400, Burlington, MA
01803), 2005. 656 pages, hardcover, $69.95.

As the ANIMAL PEOPLE statistician as well as the editor, I
jumped at the chance to review Wildlife Demography: Analysis of Sex,
Age, & Count Data, for two reasons.
First, at times I feel as if I spend half my life explaining
to people in humane work and animal control the basics of animal
population analysis. Humane workers and animal control officers have
a constant need to estimate and compare populations of street dogs,
pet dogs, feral cats, pet cats, raccoons, deer, nonmigratory vs.
migratory Canada geese, et al.

Effective techniques of counting animals and estimating
unseen numbers are not terribly complicated, and do not require
knowledge of advanced math. They do require a clear understanding of
how to judge whether a sample is representative, what conditions are
conducive to population growth or reduction, how to project
longevity, and how to account for mortality resulting from the
various common causes.
I hoped that Wildlife Demo-graphy would be a comprehensive
primer, to which I could refer callers.
I also hoped to learn something from it myself.
Unfortunately, Wildlife Demo-graphy is impenetrable
geek-speak. What isn’t written in dense academic jargon is written
in algebraic symbols. Even a would-be reader who routinely helps a
teenager decipher algebra homework will find his/her head swimming.
Each process described in Wildlife Demography for getting
from observation to outcome could have been explained as a
step-by-step problem-solving walk-through. It could have been as
easy to use as The National Animal Control Association Training
Manual, or any of our own downloadable manuals on such topics as
rabies control, keeping shelter cats healthy, fundraising, and
accountability.
Maybe some day it will be translated into English.

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