Many salmon species are monitored by visual counts of spawners in streams; however, there are few data sets where abundance is known and compared to estimates derived from visual counts. We used spawner fences to obtain known kokanee ( Oncorhynchus nerka) spawner abundance (14 stream-years) on streams that are monitored with annual visual surveys (7 to 9 counts per year) and incorporated similar published data from pink salmon ( Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) (11 stream-years). We investigated the performance of several simplified expansion factor estimation methods with survey life and observer efficiency as unknown nuisance parameters. All visual indices of kokanee and pink salmon spawners from live ground counts were highly correlated to abundance from fence counts ( r2 ≥ 0.96 and 0.89, respectively). Application of cross-validation on out-of-sample data for both species showed that mean% error could range from 13% to 53% on a previously unsampled stream depending on the species, counting method, and visual index used. Predictive performance metrics were less sensitive to counting frequency than observer efficiency and associated variability, which was influenced by the counting method (aerial versus ground surveys).

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