Statistical inference for capture-recapture studies of open animal populations typically relies on the assumption that all emigration from the studied population is permanent. However, there are many instances in which this assumption is unlikely to be met. We define two general models for the process of temporary emigration, completely random and Markovian. We then consider effects of these two types of temporary emigration on Jolly-Seber (Seber 1982) estimators and on estimators arising from the full-likelihood approach of Kendall et al. (1995) to robust design data. Capture-recapture data arising from Pollock's (1982) robust design provide the basis for obtaining unbiased estimates of demographic parameters in the presence of temporary emigration and for estimating the probability of temporary emigration. We present a likelihood-based approach to dealing with temporary emigration that permits estimation under different models of temporary emigration and yields tests for completely random and Markovian emigration. In addition, we use the relationship between capture probability estimates based on closed and open models under completely random temporary emigration to derive three ad hoc estimators for the probability of temporary emigration, two of which should be especially useful in situations where capture probabilities are heterogeneous among individual animals. Ad hoc and full-likelihood estimators are illustrated for small mammal capture-recapture data sets. We believe that these models and estimators will be useful for testing hypotheses about the process of temporary emigration, for estimating demographic parameters in the presence of temporary emigration, and for estimating probabilities of temporary emigration. These latter estimates are frequently of ecological interest as indicators of animal movement and, in some sampling situations, as direct estimates of breeding probabilities and proportions.
Additional publication details
Estimating temporary emigration and breeding proportions using capture-recapture data with Pollock's robust design