Matrix population models are important tools for research and management of populations. Estimating the parameters of these models is an important step in applying them to real populations. Multistate capture-recapture methods have provided a useful means for estimating survival and parameters of transition between locations or life history states but have mostly relied on the assumption that the state occupied by each detected animal is known with certainty. Nevertheless, in some cases animals can be misclassified. Using multiple capture sessions within each period of interest, we developed a method that adjusts estimates of transition probabilities for bias due to misclassification. We applied this method to 10 years of sighting data for a population of Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris) in order to estimate the annual probability of transition from nonbreeding to breeding status. Some sighted females were unequivocally classified as breeders because they were clearly accompanied by a first-year calf. The remainder were classified, sometimes erroneously, as nonbreeders because an attendant first-year calf was not observed or was classified as more than one year old. We estimated a conditional breeding probability of 0.31 + 0.04 (estimate + 1 SE) when we ignored misclassification bias, and 0.61 + 0.09 when we accounted for misclassification.
Additional publication details
Adjusting multistate capture-recapture models for misclassification bias: manatee breeding proportions