Modeling the life history of the endangered Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) is an important step toward understanding its population dynamics and predicting its response to management actions. We developed a multi-state mark-resighting model for data collected under Pollock's robust design. This model estimates breeding probability conditional on a female's breeding state in the previous year; assumes sighting probability depends on breeding state; and corrects for misclassification of a cow with first-year calf, by estimating conditional sighting probability for the calf. The model is also appropriate for estimating survival and unconditional breeding probabilities when the study area is closed to temporary emigration across years. We applied this model to photo-identification data for the Northwest and Atlantic Coast populations of manatees, for years 1982?2000. With rare exceptions, manatees do not reproduce in two consecutive years. For those without a first-year calf in the previous year, the best-fitting model included constant probabilities of producing a calf for the Northwest (0.43, SE = 0.057) and Atlantic (0.38, SE = 0.045) populations. The approach we present to adjust for misclassification of breeding state could be applicable to a large number of marine mammal populations.
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Capture-recapture analysis for estimating manatee reproductive rates