Monitoring population changes and trends is a central task in conservation. However, obtaining detailed information for wide and low accessible areas, such as remote islands, is challenging, and cannot be achieved with conventional approaches, such as capture-mark-recapture protocols (CMR). In this paper, we show that combining N-mixture models with ecological niche modeling allows assessing reliable estimates of population size over large target areas on short time intervals. We used it to estimate the population size of a subspecies of the Italian wall lizards (Podarcis siculus calabresiae) endemic to the Island of Montecristo (10.39 km(2) in surface). During a single week, we first generated a niche model of the species based on satellite images sampled few days before sampling. Then, we estimated lizard abundance through Bayesian N-mixture models on repeated counts (n=3) along transects (n=6), settled in different areas of habitat suitability defined on the basis of the niche model. Finally, we estimated in approximately 20.000 the total number of lizards living in the Island by extrapolating the values computed on transects to the areas of the islands with the same suitability estimated by the niche model. The procedure can be easily repeated allowing monitoring the status of conservation of the species in the island of Montecristo. More in general, this procedure has the potential to be applied to monitor any other species of conservation interest in remote areas whenever detailed satellite images are available.[GRAPHICS].
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