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Finite mixtures in capture-recapture surveys for modelling residency patterns in marine wildlife populations

by   Gianmarco Caruso, et al.
Università Roma Tre
Sapienza University of Rome

In this work, the goal is to estimate the abundance of an animal population using data coming from capture-recapture surveys. We leverage the prior knowledge about the population's structure to specify a parsimonious finite mixture model tailored to its behavioral pattern. Inference is carried out under the Bayesian framework, where we discuss suitable priors' specification that could alleviate label-switching and non-identifiability issues affecting finite mixtures. We conduct simulation experiments to show the competitive advantage of our proposal over less specific alternatives. Finally, the proposed model is used to estimate the common bottlenose dolphins' population size at the Tiber River estuary (Mediterranean Sea), using data collected via photo-identification from 2018 to 2020. Results provide novel insights on the population's size and structure, and shed light on some of the ecological processes governing the population dynamics.


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