The inability to account for the availability of individuals in the study area during capture-mark-recapture (CMR) studies and the resultant confounding of parameter estimates can make correct interpretation of CMR model parameter estimates difficult. Although important advances based on the Cormack-Jolly-Seber (CJS) model have resulted in estimators of true survival that work by unconfounding either death or recapture probability from availability for capture in the study area, these methods rely on the researcher's ability to select a method that is correctly matched to emigration patterns in the population. If incorrect assumptions regarding site fidelity (non-movement) are made, it may be difficult or impossible as well as costly to change the study design once the incorrect assumption is discovered. Subtleties in characteristics of movement (e.g. life history-dependent emigration, nomads vs territory holders) can lead to mixtures in the probability of being available for capture among members of the same population. The result of these mixtures may be only a partial unconfounding of emigration from other CMR model parameters. Biologically-based differences in individual movement can combine with constraints on study design to further complicate the problem. Because of the intricacies of movement and its interaction with other parameters in CMR models, quantification of and solutions to these problems are needed. Based on our work with stream-dwelling populations of Atlantic salmon Salmo salar, we used a simulation approach to evaluate existing CMR models under various mixtures of movement probabilities. The Barker joint data model provided unbiased estimates of true survival under all conditions tested. The CJS and robust design models provided similarly unbiased estimates of true survival but only when emigration information could be incorporated directly into individual encounter histories. For the robust design model, Markovian emigration (future availability for capture depends on an individual's current location) was a difficult emigration pattern to detect unless survival and especially recapture probability were high. Additionally, when local movement was high relative to study area boundaries and movement became more diffuse (e.g. a random walk), local movement and permanent emigration were difficult to distinguish and had consequences for correctly interpreting the survival parameter being estimated (apparent survival vs true survival). ?? 2008 The Authors.
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Movement patterns and study area boundaries: Influences on survival estimation in capture-mark-recapture studies