Information dynamics and optimal sampling in capture-recapture

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The build up of information in a continued capture-recapture experiment of simple random sampling of an open population is studied by predicting the conditional approximate Fisher information for abundance in data from one survey given the previous data. By neglecting the stochasticity in survival, a simple approximate likelihood is obtained. Optimal temporal allocation of a given total effort is found by numerical optimization for various objective functions based on the approximate Fisher information. For aerial photographic surveys of bowhead whales, the performance of estimates of abundance and of demographic parameters is compared between constant yearly survey effort and nominally optimal sampling by simulating a realistic model over 50 years.

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