Assessing the Minimum Sampling Effort Required to Reliably Monitor Wild Meat Trade in Urban Markets

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The trade of wild meat generates great economic returns for local communities but at a cost of increasing harvest rates of game species. Monitoring wild meat trade in urban markets is a low-cost method that can be employed to assess impacts of hunting on game populations. Nevertheless, wild meat markets are complex systems to monitor since they often vary over time, are illegal in some countries, and often vendors distrust researchers. We investigated the wild meat trade in the Belén market in Iquitos, Peru, the largest wild meat market in the Amazon, to estimate the minimum sampling effort required to obtain reliable estimates of the amounts and prices of wild meat sold. During two 12-month surveys (Sept. 2006-Aug. 2007, Sept. 2017-Aug. 2018), we conducted a total of 4,524 vendor interviews in 320 sample days. By modeling 10 possible scenarios in which sampling size and amount of meat traded varied, we calculated the accuracy and precision of different survey protocols. We found that in scenarios where the daily amount of wild meat on sale was between 40 and 650 kg, a sampling effort equal to or >2 sampling days per month provided good accuracy (>90%) and precision (>85%). However, in scenarios where wild meat traded was less frequent, or for rarer species, an effort of at least one interview per week is required. Vendor declaration of the daily amounts of meat sold was similar to the quantity on sale (accuracy = 98%), suggesting that sellers are aware of the volume of wild meat brought to market. To accurately monitor the trade of wild meat in urban markets, we recommend a minimum sampling effort, ranging from two interviews per week to two interviews per month, depending on the amount of wild meat traded; in other occasions, a punctual interview on meat sellers' perception may also be useful.

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