Skip Links

USGS - science for a changing world

Open-File Report 2011-1269

DS – Software for Analyzing Data Collected Using Double Sampling

By Jonathan Bart and Dana Hartley


DS analyzes count data to estimate density or relative density and population size when appropriate. The software is no longer available. The software was designed to analyze data collected using double sampling, but it also can be used to analyze index data. DS is not currently configured to apply distance methods or methods based on capture-recapture theory.

Double sampling for the purpose of this report means surveying a sample of locations with a rapid method of unknown accuracy and surveying a subset of these locations using a more intensive method assumed to yield unbiased estimates. “Detection ratios” are calculated as the ratio of results from rapid surveys on intensive plots to the number actually present as determined from the intensive surveys. The detection ratios are used to adjust results from the rapid surveys. The formula for density is (results from rapid survey)/(estimated detection ratio from intensive surveys). Population sizes are estimated as (density)(area). Double sampling is well-established in the survey sampling literature—see Cochran (1977) for the basic theory, Smith (1995) for applications of double sampling in waterfowl surveys, Bart and Earnst (2002, 2005) for discussions of its use in wildlife studies, and Bart and others (in press) for a detailed account of how the method was used to survey shorebirds across the arctic region of North America.

Indices are surveys that do not involve complete counts of well-defined plots or recording information to estimate detection rates (Thompson and others, 1998). In most cases, such data should not be used to estimate density or population size but, under some circumstances, may be used to compare two densities or estimate how density changes through time or across space (Williams and others, 2005). The Breeding Bird Survey (Sauer and others, 2008) provides a good example of an index survey. Surveyors record all birds detected but do not record any information, such as distance or whether each bird is recorded in subperiods, that could be used to estimate detection rates. Nonetheless, the data are widely used to estimate temporal trends and spatial patterns in abundance (Sauer and others, 2008).

DS produces estimates of density (or relative density for indices) by species and stratum. Strata are usually defined using region and habitat but other variables may be used, and the entire study area may be classified as a single stratum. Population size in each stratum and for the entire study area also is estimated for each species. For indices, the estimated totals generally are only useful if (a) plots are surveyed so that densities can be calculated and extrapolated to the entire study area and (b) if the detection rates are close to 1.0. All estimates are accompanied by standard errors (SE) and coefficients of variation (CV, that is, SE/estimate).

First posted September 30, 2011

For additional information contact:
Director, Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center,
U.S. Geological Survey, 777 NW 9th Street
Corvallis, Oregon 97330

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

Bart, Jonathan, and Hartley, Dana, 2011, DS – Software for analyzing data collected using double sampling: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011-1269, 24 p.



Preparing the Input Files for DS

Running DS



References Cited

Appendix A. Installing DS

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: Contact USGS
Page Last Modified: Thursday, September 19, 2019, 03:03:46 PM