Hard choices in assessing survival past dams a comparison of single- and paired-release strategies

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Authors Joseph Zydlewski, Daniel Stich, Douglas Sigourney
Journal/Conference Name Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Paper Category
Paper Abstract MarkÔÇôrecapture models are widely used to estimate survival of salmon smolts migrating past dams. Paired releases have been used to improve estimate accuracy by removing components of mortality not attributable to the dam. This method is accompanied by reduced precision because (i) sample size is reduced relative to a single, large release; and (ii) variance calculations inflate error. We modeled an idealized system with a single dam to assess trade-offs between accuracy and precision and compared methods using root mean squared error (RMSE). Simulations were run under predefined conditions (dam mortality, background mortality, detection probability, and sample size) to determine scenarios when the paired release was preferable to a single release. We demonstrate that a paired-release design provides a theoretical advantage over a single-release design only at large sample sizes and high probabilities of detection. At release numbers typical of many survival studies, paired release can result in overestimation of dam survival. Failures to meet model assumptions of a paired release may result in further overestimation of dam-related survival. Under most conditions, a single-release strategy was preferable.
Date of publication 2016
Code Programming Language R

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