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A generalized estimating equations approach for capture–recapture closed population models

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Abstract

The estimation of population density animal population parameters, such as capture probability, population size, or population density, is an important issue in many ecological applications. Capture–recapture data may be considered as repeated observations that are often correlated over time. If these correlations are not taken into account then parameter estimates may be biased, possibly producing misleading results. We propose a generalized estimating equations (GEE) approach to account for correlation over time instead of assuming independence as in the traditional closed population capture–recapture studies. We also account for heterogeneity among observed individuals and over-dispersion, modelling capture probabilities as a function of covariates. The GEE versions of all closed population capture–recapture models and their corresponding estimating equations are proposed. We evaluate the effect of accounting for correlation structures on capture–recapture model selection based on the quasi-likelihood information criterion (QIC). An example is used for an illustrative application and for comparison to currently used methodology. A Horvitz–Thompson-like estimator is used to obtain estimates of population size based on conditional arguments. A simulation study is conducted to evaluate the performance of the GEE approach in capture-recapture studies. The GEE approach performs well for estimating population parameters, particularly when capture probabilities are high. The simulation results also reveal that estimated population size varies on the nature of the existing correlation among capture occasions.

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Acknowledgments

This research was funded by EMMA in the framework of the EU Erasmus Mundus Action 2 and FCT, Portugal under the Project PEst-OE/MAT/UI0117/2011. The authors would like to thank ISEC-2012 conference organizing committee for giving opportunity to collect valuable suggestions on this manuscript. The authors are very grateful to two referees for their careful reading of the manuscript and several helpful suggestions that considerably improved the presentation.

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Correspondence to Md. Abdus Salam Akanda.

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Handling Editor: Ashis SenGupta.

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Akanda, M.A.S., Alpizar-Jara, R. A generalized estimating equations approach for capture–recapture closed population models. Environ Ecol Stat 21, 667–688 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10651-014-0274-7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10651-014-0274-7

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