, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 331-347

Estimating demographic parameters for capture–recapture data in the presence of multiple mark types

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Abstract

In mark-recapture studies, various techniques can be used to uniquely identify individual animals, such as ringing, tagging or photo-identification using natural markings. In some long-term studies more than one type of marking procedure may be implemented during the study period. In these circumstances, ignoring the different mark types can produce biased survival estimates since the assumption that the different mark types are equally catchable (homogeneous capture probability across mark types) may be incorrect. We implement an integrated approach where we simultaneously analyse data obtained using three different marking techniques, assuming that animals can be cross-classified across the different mark types. We discriminate between competing models using the AIC statistic. This technique also allows us to estimate both relative mark-loss probabilities and relative recapture efficiency rates for the different marking methods. We initially perform a simulation study to explore the different biases that can be introduced if we assume a homogeneous recapture probability over mark type, before applying the method to a real dataset. We make use of data obtained from an intensive long-term observational study of UK female grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) at a single breeding colony, where three different methods are used to identify individuals within a single study: branding, tagging and photo-identification based on seal coat pattern or pelage.