Researchers use population counts to understand the health of an ecosystem or status of a species. There are many different methods of counting populations. Quadrant sampling divides the area into squares and randomly counts the amount of animals or plants in that quadrant. Line and strip sampling are similar to quadrant sampling, the area is shaped differently. Counting occurrences of animal evidence such as bones, scat or nests is also an effective sampling method. Arial surveys are also used when surveying large areas.
There is no sweeping national or international census for animals, although many localized censuses are taken through the methods that ecolizzie describes. Some towns, counties and boroughs have pet censuses to keep track of what kinds of pets people have (this can help account for animals in case of an emergy evacuation). For example, the State of New Jersey mandates that a pet census be completed for all of its towns and boroughs, in order to help gather information that can control the spread of rabies.
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