[C]apture-[R]ecapture [M]ixed [M]odels (CRMM)

ANR project ‘Jeunes Chercheur(e)s’

January 2009 – December 2011



Olivier Gimenez (PI), Rémi Choquet, Roger Pradel, Jean-Dominique Lebreton

PhD students: Sarah Cubaynes, Mathieu Buoro, Lucile Marescot, Guillaume Péron

Master students: Marlène Gamelon, Marine Desprez, Julien Papaïx

People hired thanks to ANR funding: Elena Papadatou (post-doc), Sabrina Servanty (post-doc), Erica Nogué (software engineer)


Integrating individual, temporal and spatial heterogeneity in population dynamics

Animal population dynamics studies variation of population size and structure in time and space. Associated models allow addressing important questions in conservation biology, ecology and evolutionary biology. However, in natural conditions, it is difficult to estimate demographic parameters that are required to calibrate these models because of the practical impossibility in the field to detect exhaustively all the individuals of a population at any time. Capture-recapture (CR) models allow estimating demographic parameters while accounting for imperfect detectability (detection probability < 1). Despite their advantages, these models rely on the strong assumption of homogeneity in the parameters, which comes with the risk of statistical bias and flawed biological inference. In our project, we have extended standard CR models to incorporate different sources of heterogeneity. These methodological developments have been motivated with case studies in population biology and have been implemented in a computer software with a large diffusion towards biologists.

Capture-recapture mixed models

To ensure the adoption of our new framework, we have built up relevant statistical models, implemented reliable and fast numerical algorithms and developed a user-friendly and free of charge computer program available on the Internet. These new tools have allowed the estimation of the French wolf population size, the suggestion of management strategies for wild boar management, the quantification of evolutionary trade-offs in the Atlantic salmon, the evidence of the influence of experience in kittiwakes, the description of senescence patterns in black-headed gulls, the quantification of hunting pressure in the Eurasian woodcock, the study of the effect of climate on breeding of red-footed albatross, the disentangling of environmental vs. genetic factors on survival of blue tits, and the estimation of inter-population and inter-specific differences in survival of several bats species.


This project provides a formal framework to biologists in order to take heterogeneity into account in population dynamics through, among others, the availability of a computer program. These results have been obtained thanks to the collaborative work of a team made of researchers, engineers, Master students, PhD students and post-docs funded by ANR and working at the interface of biostatistics and population biology.

The project has led to the publication of 30 papers in international peer-reviewed journals both on the i) methodological aspects dealing with models, algorithms and software developed within the duration of the project ii) biological aspects about the results obtained in conservation biology, population ecology and evolutionary biology.

The project Capture-Recapture Mixed Models is a fundamental research project led by Olivier Gimenez. The project started in January 2009 and last for 36 months. It was funded by ANR with a budget of 190000€ for a total cost of approximately 1200000€.