Simplified procedure for efficient and unbiased population size estimation
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ABSTRACT: Population size estimation is relevant to social and ecological sciences. Exhaustive manual counting, the density method and automated computer vision are some of the estimation methods that are currently used. Some of these methods may work in concrete cases but they do not provide a fast, efficient and unbiased estimation in general. Recently, the CountEm method, based on systematic sampling with a grid of quadrats, was proposed. It offers an unbiased estimation that can be applied to any population. However, choosing suitable grid parameters is sometimes cumbersome. Here we define a more intuitive grid parametrization, using initial number of quadrats and sampling fraction. A crowd counting dataset with 51 images and their corresponding, manually annotated position point patterns, are used to analyze the variation of the coefficient of error with respect to different parameter choices. Our Monte Carlo resampling results show that the error depends on the sample size and the number of nonempty quadrats, but not on the size of the target population. A procedure to choose suitable parameter values is described, and the expected coefficients of error are given. Counting about 100 particles in 30 nonempty quadrats usually yields coefficients of error below 10%.