A Likelihood-Based Approach to Capture-Recapture Estimation of Demographic Parameters under the Robust Design

  • Kendall W
  • Pollock K
  • Brownie C
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Abstract

The Jolly-Seber method has been the traditional approach to the estimation of demographic parameters in long-term capture-recapture studies of wildlife and fish species. This method involves restrictive assumptions about capture probabilities that can lead to biased estimates, especially of population size and recruitment. Pollock (1982, Journal of wildlife management 46, 752-757) proposed a sampling scheme in which a series of closely spaced samples were separated by longer intervals such as a year. For this "robust design", Pollock suggested a flexible ad hoc approach that combines the Jolly-Sieber estimators with closed population estimators , to reduce bias caused by unequal catchability, and to provide estimates for parameters that are unidentifiable by the Jolly-Seber method alone. In this paper we provide a formal modelling framwork for analysis of data obtained using the robust design. We develop likelihood functions for the complete data structure under a variety of models and examine the relationship among the models. We compute maximum likelihood estimates for the parameters by applying a conditional argument, and compare their performance agaisnt those of ad hoc and Jolly-Seber approaches using simulation.

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Authors

  • William L. Kendall

  • Kenneth H. Pollock

  • Cavell Brownie

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