Identifying sources of heterogeneity in capture probabilities: An example using the Great Tit Parus major

Bird Study

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Heterogeneous capture probabilities are a common problem in many capture-recapture studies. Several methods of detecting the presence of such heterogeneity are currently available, and stratification of data has been suggested as the standard method to avoid its effects. However, few studies have tried to identify sources of heterogeneity, or whether there are interactions among sources. The aim of this paper is to suggest an analytical procedure to identify sources of capture heterogeneity. We use data on the sex and age of Great Tits captured in baited funnel traps, at two localities differing in average temperature. We additionally use 'recapture' data obtained by videotaping at feeder (with no associated trap), where the tits ringed with different colours were recorded. This allowed us to test whether individuals in different classes (age, sex and condition) are not trapped because of trap shyness or because o a reduced use of the bait. We used logistic regression analysis of the capture probabilities to test for the effects of age, sex, condition, location and 'recapture method. The results showed a higher recapture probability in the colder locality. Yearling birds (either males or females) had the highest recapture prob abilities, followed by adult males, while adult females had the lowest recapture probabilities. There was no effect of the method of 'recapture' (trap or video tape), which suggests that adult females are less often captured in traps no because of trap-shyness but because of less dependence on supplementary food. The potential use of this methodological approach in other studies is discussed.

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Identifying sources of heterogeneity in capture probabilities: An example using the Great Tit Parus major
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Bird Study
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Bird Study