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A Class of Latent Markov Models for Capture–Recapture Data Allowing for Time, Heterogeneity, and Behavior Effects

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We propose an extension of the latent class model for the analysis of capture–recapture data which allows us to take into account the effect of a capture on the behavior of a subject with respect to future captures. The approach is based on the assumption that the variable indexing the latent class of a subject follows a Markov chain with transition probabilities depending on the previous capture history. Several constraints are allowed on these transition probabilities and on the parameters of the conditional distribution of the capture configuration given the latent process. We also allow for the presence of discrete explanatory variables, which may affect the parameters of the latent process. To estimate the resulting models, we rely on the conditional maximum likelihood approach and for this aim we outline an EM algorithm. We also give some simple rules for point and interval estimation of the population size. The approach is illustrated by applying it to two data sets concerning small mammal populations.

Keywords: Closed populations; Conditional maximum likelihood estimation; Confidence intervals; EM algorithm; Latent class model; Markov chain; Rasch model

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Economics, Finance and Statistics, University of Perugia, Via A. Pascoli 20, 06123 Perugia, Italy, Email: 2: Department of Statistics, University of Milano-Bicocca, Via Bicocca degli Arcimboldi 8, 20126 Milano, Italy, Email:

Publication date: June 1, 2007


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