Inference from single occasion capture experiments using genetic markers
Accurate estimation of the size of animal populations is an important task in ecological science. Recent advances in the field of molecular genetics researches allow the use of genetic data to estimate the size of a population from a single capture occasion rather than repeated occasions as in the usual capture–recapture experiments. Estimating the population size using genetic data also has sometimes led to estimates that differ markedly from each other and also from classical capture–recapture estimates. Here, we develop a closed form estimator that uses genetic information to estimate the size of a population consisting of mothers and daughters, focusing on estimating the number of mothers, using data from a single sample. We demonstrate the estimator is consistent and propose a parametric bootstrap to estimate the standard errors. The estimator is evaluated in a simulation study and applied to real data. We also consider maximum likelihood in this setting and discover problems that preclude its general use.