Despite intensive monitoring, temporary emigration from the sampling area can induce bias severe enough for managers to discard life-history parameter estimates toward the terminus of the times series (terminal bias). Under random temporary emigration unbiased parameters can be estimated with CJS models. However, unmodeled Markovian temporary emigration causes bias in parameter estimates and an unobservable state is required to model this type of emigration. The robust design is most flexible when modeling temporary emigration, and partial solutions to mitigate bias have been identified, nonetheless there are conditions were terminal bias prevails. Long-lived species with high adult survival and highly variable non-random temporary emigration present terminal bias in survival estimates, despite being modeled with the robust design and suggested constraints. Because this bias is due to uncertainty about the fate of individuals that are undetected toward the end of the time series, solutions should involve using additional information on survival status or location of these individuals at that time. Using simulation, we evaluated the performance of models that jointly analyze robust design data and an additional source of ancillary data (predictive covariate on temporary emigration, telemetry, dead recovery, or auxiliary resightings) in reducing terminal bias in survival estimates. The auxiliary resighting and predictive covariate models reduced terminal bias the most. Additional telemetry data was effective at reducing terminal bias only when individuals were tracked for a minimum of two years. High adult survival of long-lived species made the joint model with recovery data ineffective at reducing terminal bias because of small-sample bias. The naïve constraint model (last and penultimate temporary emigration parameters made equal), was the least efficient, though still able to reduce terminal bias when compared to an unconstrained model. Joint analysis of several sources of data improved parameter estimates and reduced terminal bias. Efforts to incorporate or acquire such data should be considered by researchers and wildlife managers, especially in the years leading up to status assessments of species of interest. Simulation modeling is a very cost effective method to explore the potential impacts of using different sources of data to produce high quality demographic data to inform management.
Additional publication details
Reducing bias in survival under non-random temporary emigration
Ecological Society of America
Colorado Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit