Dispersal in animal populations is intimately linked with accession to reproduction, i.e. recruitment, and population regulation. Dispersal processes are thus a key component of population dynamics to the same extent as reproduction or mortality processes. Despite the growing interest in spatial aspects of population dynamics, the methodology for estimating dispersal, in particular in relation with recruitment, is limited. In many animal populations, in particular vertebrates, the impossibility of following individuals over space and time in an exhaustive way leads to the need to frame the estimation of dispersal in the context of capture-recapture methodology. We present here a class of age-dependent multistate capture-recapture models for the simultaneous estimation of natal dispersal, breeding dispersal, and age-dependent recruitment. These models are suitable for populations in which individuals are marked at birth and then recaptured over several sites. Under simple constraints, they can be used in populations where non-breeders are not observed, as is often the case with colonial waterbirds monitored on their breeding grounds. Biological questions can be addressed by comparing models differing in structure, according to the generalized linear model philosophy broadly used in capture-recapture methodology. We illustrate the potential of this approach by an analysis of recruitment and dispersal in the roseate tern Sterna dougallii.
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Estimation by capture-recapture of recruitment and dispersal over several sites