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Comparing capture–recapture methods for estimation of the size of small and medium-sized populations using empirical data on commercial turkey farms in Canada

El Allaki, Farouk, Christensen, Jette, Vallières, André
Preventive veterinary medicine 2015 v.120 no.1 pp. 86-95
avian influenza, farms, models, monitoring, population size, prediction, systematic review, turkey meat, Canada
The study objectives were (1) to conduct a systematic review of the performance of capture–recapture methods; (2) to use empirical data to estimate population size in a small-sized population (turkey breeder farms) and a medium-sized population (meat turkey farms) by applying two-source capture–recapture methods (the Lincoln–Petersen, the Chapman, and Chao's lower-bound estimators) and multi-source capture–recapture methods (the log-linear modeling and sample coverage approaches); and (3) to compare the performance of these methods in predicting the true population sizes (2007 data). Our set-up was unique in that we knew the population sizes for turkey breeder farms (99) and meat turkey farms (592) in Canada in 2007, which we applied as our true population sizes, and had surveillance data from the Canadian Notifiable Avian Influenza Surveillance System (2008–2012). We defined each calendar year of sampling as a data source. We confirmed that the two-source capture–recapture methods were sensitive to the violation of the local independence assumption. The log-linear modeling and sample coverage approaches yielded estimates that were closer to the true population sizes than were the estimates provided by the two-source methods for both populations. The performance of both multi-source capture–recapture methods depended on the number of data sources analyzed and the size of the population. Simulation studies are recommended to better understand the limits of each multi-source capture–recapture method.