We consider the estimation of the size of a closed population, often of interest for wild animal populations, using a capture-recapture study. The estimate of the total population size can be very sensitive to the choice of model used to fit to the data. We consider a Bayesian approach, in which we consider all eight plausible models initially described by Otis et al. (1978, Wildlife Monographs 62, 1-135) within a single framework, including models containing an individual heterogeneity component. We show how we are able to obtain a model-averaged estimate of the total population, incorporating both parameter and model uncertainty. To illustrate the methodology we initially perform a simulation study and analyze two datasets where the population size is known, before considering a real example relating to a population of dolphins off northeast Scotland.
- Bayesian approach
- population size
- reversible jump Markov chain Monte Carlo
- CAPTURE-RECAPTURE MODELS