The robust design has become popular among animal ecologists as a means for estimating population abundance and related demographic parameters with mark-recapture data. However, two drawbacks of traditional mark-recapture are financial cost and repeated disturbance to animals. Mark-resight methodology may in many circumstances be a less expensive and less invasive alternative to mark-recapture, but the models developed to date for these data have overwhelmingly concentrated only on the estimation of abundance. Here we introduce a mark-resight model analogous to that used in mark-recapture for the simultaneous estimation of abundance, apparent survival, and transition probabilities between observable and unobservable states. The model may be implemented using standard statistical computing software, but it has also been incorporated into the freeware package Program MARK. We illustrate the use of our model with mainland New Zealand Robin (Petroica australis) data collected to ascertain whether this methodology may be a reliable alternative for monitoring endangered populations of a closely related species inhabiting the Chatham Islands. We found this method to be a viable alternative to traditional mark-recapture when cost or disturbance to species is of particular concern in long-term population monitoring programs. ?? 2009 by the Ecological Society of America.
Additional publication details
A less field-intensive robust design for estimating demographic parameters with Mark-resight data