Animal Biodiversity and Conservation. Volume 27.1 (2004) Pages: 541-548
Estimating true age-dependence in survival when only adults can be observed: an example with Black-legged Kittiwakes
Frederiksen, M., Wanless, S., Harris, M. P.
In long-lived birds, pre-breeders are often difficult or impossible to observe, and even though a proportion of marked adults may be of known age, the estimation of age-specific survival is complicated by the absence of observations during the first years of life. New developments in MARK now allow use of an updated individual covariate. We used this powerful approach to model age-dependence in survival of Black-legged Kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla) at a North Sea colony. Although only 69 marked breeders were of known age, there was strong evidence for a quadratic relationship between true age and survival. We believe that this simple but powerful approach could be implemented for many species and could provide improved estimates of how survival changes with age, a central theme in life history theory.