Standard Article


  1. Anne Chao

Published Online: 15 JUL 2005

DOI: 10.1002/0470011815.b2a10010

Encyclopedia of Biostatistics

Encyclopedia of Biostatistics

How to Cite

Chao, A. 2005. Capture–Recapture. Encyclopedia of Biostatistics. 1.

Author Information

  1. National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan, Republic of China

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUL 2005


Capture–recapture methods are used to estimate population sizes and related parameters such as survival rates, birth rates, and migration rates. A typical capture–recapture experiment places traps in the study area and samples the population several times. At each trapping sample, one records and attaches a unique tag to every unmarked animal, records the capture of any animal that has been previously tagged, and returns all animals to the population. This article describes the history of the method, discusses applications to epidemiology, discusses potential models, and discusses the challenges inherent in estimating the population size well.


  • census;
  • epidemiology;
  • heterogeneity;
  • loglinear model;
  • model selection;
  • population size;
  • sample coverage