Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Simon Bonner

Second Advisor

Dr. Richard Charnigo


I consider statistical modelling of data gathered by photographic identification in mark-recapture studies and propose a new method that incorporates the inherent uncertainty of photographic identification in the estimation of abundance, survival and recruitment. A hierarchical model is proposed which accepts scores assigned to pairs of photographs by pattern recognition algorithms as data and allows for uncertainty in matching photographs based on these scores. The new models incorporate latent capture histories that are treated as unknown random variables informed by the data, contrasting past models having the capture histories being fixed. The methods properly account for uncertainty in the matching process and avoid the need for researchers to confirm matches visually, which may be a time consuming and error prone process.

Through simulation and application to data obtained from a photographic identification study of whale sharks I show that the proposed method produces estimates that are similar to when the true matching nature of the photographic pairs is known. I then extend the method to incorporate auxiliary information to predetermine matches and non-matches between pairs of photographs in order to reduce computation time when fitting the model. Additionally, methods previously applied to record linkage problems in survey statistics are borrowed to predetermine matches and non-matches based on scores that are deemed extreme. I fit the new models in the Bayesian paradigm via Markov Chain Monte Carlo and custom code that is available by request.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)