Expanding the feasibility of fish and wildlife assessments with close-kin mark–recapture

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Close-kin mark–recapture (CKMR) is a powerful new method for the assessment of fish and wildlife population dynamics. Unlike traditional mark–recapture techniques, the use of kinship as an identifying mark is robust to many forms of capture heterogeneity including variation in gear efficiency and tagging-based effects such as loss and differential mortality. In addition, close-kin methods can be applied to a wider range of sampling designs than traditional methods (e.g., single-occasion surveys and lethal capture), can provide retrospective historical abundance estimates, and can produce survival estimates from as few as two sampling occasions. We evaluated the ability of CKMR to provide estimates of abundance and adult survival and then compared results to those from traditional mark–recapture. This analysis incorporated data from a three-year study of lake resident brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) where individuals were both physically (PIT) tagged and genotyped for 44 de novo developed microsatellites with high throughput sequencing. Traditional mark–recapture estimates were derived using Pollock’s Robust Design, relying upon three primary open sampling occasions and four secondary closed occasions. We found that close-kin methods produced contemporary estimates of adult abundance and survival that were similar to those produced by traditional mark–recapture in both magnitude and precision. Furthermore, CKMR provided abundance estimates for multiple years prior to sampling and, when restricted to data from a single year, still produced reliable abundance estimates for at least one and as many as three years. Retrospective abundance estimates corresponded with those from a separate historical two-sample mark–recapture dataset. This study provides support for the use of CKMR as a robust and sampling-efficient alternative to traditional mark–recapture methods of assessing population parameters.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Expanding the feasibility of fish and wildlife assessments with close-kin mark–recapture
Series title Ecosphere
DOI 10.1002/ecs2.3259
Volume 11
Issue 10
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Ecological Society of America
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Leetown
Description e3259, 14 p.
Country United States
State New York
Other Geospatial Honnedaga Lake
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