[MARMAM] New publication: Applying the Multistate Capture-recapture Robust Design to characterize metapopulation structure

Delphine Chabanne D.Chabanne at murdoch.edu.au
Fri May 5 04:10:33 PDT 2017

Dear MARMAM readers,

My co-authors and I would like to announce our recent publication in Methods in Ecology and Evolution:

Chabanne, D.B.H., Pollock, K.H., Finn, H. and Bejder, L. 2017 Applying the Multistate Capture-recapture Robust Design to characterize metapopulation structure. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. Doi: 10.1111/2041-210X.12792


1. Population structure must be considered when developing mark-recapture (MR) study designs as the sampling of individuals from multiple populations (or subpopulations) may increase heterogeneity in individual capture probability. Conversely, the use of an appropriate MR study design which accommodates heterogeneity associated with capture-occasion varying covariates due to animals moving between 'states' (i.e. geographic sites) can provide insight into how animals are distributed in a particular environment and the status and connectivity of subpopulations.
2. The Multistate Closed Robust Design (MSCRD) was chosen to investigate: 1) the demographic parameters of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus) subpopulations in coastal and estuarine waters of Perth, Western Australia; and 2) how they are related to each other in a metapopulation. Using four years of year-round photo-identification surveys across three geographic sites, we accounted for heterogeneity of capture probability based on how individuals distributed themselves across geographic sites and characterized the status of subpopulations based on their abundance, survival and interconnection.
3. MSCRD models highlighted high heterogeneity in capture probabilities and demographic parameters between sites. High capture probabilities, high survival and constant abundances described a subpopulation with high fidelity in an estuary. In contrast, low captures, permanent and temporary emigration and fluctuating abundances suggested transient use and low fidelity in an open coastline site.
4. Estimates of transition probabilities also varied between sites, with estuarine dolphins visiting sheltered coastal embayments more regularly than coastal dolphins visited the estuary, highlighting some dynamics within the metapopulation.
5. Synthesis and applications. To date, bottlenose dolphin studies using mark-recapture approach have focused on investigating single subpopulations. Here, in a heterogeneous coastal-estuarine environment, we demonstrated that spatially structured bottlenose dolphin subpopulations contained distinct suites of individuals and differed in size, demographics and connectivity. Such insights into the dynamics of a metapopulation can assist in local-scale species conservation. The MSCRD approach is applicable to species/populations consisting of recognizable individuals and is particularly useful for characterizing wildlife subpopulations that vary in their vulnerability to human activities, climate change or invasive species.

You can access the article at: https://doi.org/10.1111/2041-210X.12792

If you cannot download the publication, you can request a pdf by emailing to: D.Chabanne at murdoch.edu.au

Delphine Chabanne
Ph.D. candidate
Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit
School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Murdoch University, Western Australia
Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia


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