Standard Article

Capture-Recapture Methodology

Ecological Statistics

  1. William R. Gould1,
  2. William L. Kendall2

Published Online: 15 JAN 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9780470057339.vac002.pub2

Encyclopedia of Environmetrics

Encyclopedia of Environmetrics

How to Cite

Gould, W. R. and Kendall, W. L. 2013. Capture-Recapture Methodology . Encyclopedia of Environmetrics. 1.

Author Information

  1. 1

    New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM, USA

  2. 2

    Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JAN 2013


Capture-recapture methods were initially developed to estimate human population abundance, but since that time have seen widespread use for fish and wildlife populations to estimate and model various parameters of population, metapopulation, and disease dynamics. Repeated sampling of marked animals provides information for estimating abundance and tracking the fate of individuals in the face of imperfect detection. Mark types have evolved from clipping or tagging to use of noninvasive methods such as photography of natural markings and DNA collection from feces. Survival estimation has been emphasized more recently as have transition probabilities between life history states and/or geographical locations, even where some states are unobservable or uncertain. Sophisticated software has been developed to handle highly parameterized models, including environmental and individual covariates, to conduct model selection, and to employ various estimation approaches such as maximum likelihood and Bayesian approaches. With these user-friendly tools, complex statistical models for studying population dynamics have been made available to ecologists. The future will include a continuing trend toward integrating data types, both for tagged and untagged individuals, to produce more precise and robust population models.


  • abundance;
  • closed population;
  • detection;
  • heterogeneity;
  • marks;
  • models;
  • open population;
  • robust;
  • survival