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Animal Biodiversity and Conservation. Volume 27.1 (2004) Pages: 471-488

Beyond survival estimation: mark-recapture, matrix population models, and population dynamics

Caswell, H., Fujiwara, M.





Survival probability is of interest primarily as a component of population dynamics. Only when survival estimates are included in a demographic model are their population implications apparent. Survival describes the transition between living and dead. Biologically important as this transition is, it is only one of many transitions in the life cycle. Others include transitions between immature and mature, unmated and mated, breeding and non¿breeding, larva and adult, small and large, and location x and location y. The demographic consequences of these transitions can be captured by matrix population models, and such models provide a natural link connecting multi-stage mark-recapture methods and population dynamics. This paper explores some of those connections, with examples taken from an ongoing analysis of the endangered North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis). Formulating problems in terms of a matrix population model provides an easy way to compute the likelihood of capture histories. It extends the list of demographic parameters for which maximum likelihood estimates can be obtained to include population growth rate, the sensitivity and elasticity of population growth rate, the net reproductive rate, generation time, measures of transient dynamics. In the future, multi-stage mark-recapture methods, linked to matrix population models, will become an increasingly important part of demography.


Matrix population models, Right whale, Eubalaena glacialis, Sensitivity, Elasticity


Caswell, H., Fujiwara, M., 2004. Beyond survival estimation: mark-recapture, matrix population models, and population dynamics. Animal Biodiversity and Conservation, 27: 471-488, DOI:






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