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Animal Biodiversity and Conservation. Volume 27.1 (2004) Pages: 97-107

Coping with unobservable and mis-classified states in capture-recapture studies

Kendall, W. L.




Multistate mark-recapture methods provide an excellent conceptual framework for considering estimation in studies of marked animals. Traditional methods include the assumptions that (1) each state an animal occupies is observable, and (2) state is assigned correctly at each point in time. Failure of either of these assumptions can lead to biased estimates of demographic parameters. I review design and analysis options for minimizing or eliminating these biases. Unobservable states can be adjusted for by including them in the state space of the statistical model, with zero capture probability, and incorporating the robust design, or observing animals in the unobservable state through telemetry, tag recoveries, or incidental observations. Mis-classification can be adjusted for by auxiliary data or incorporating the robust design, in order to estimate the probability of detecting the state an animal occupies. For both unobservable and mis-classified states, the key feature of the robust design is the assumption that the state of the animal is static for at least two sampling occasions.


Temporary emigration, Robust design, Auxiliary data, Metapopulation, Breeding probability.


Kendall, W. L., 2004. Coping with unobservable and mis-classified states in capture-recapture studies. Animal Biodiversity and Conservation, 27: 97-107






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