Occupancy estimation and modeling with multiple states and state uncertainty

James D. Nichols, James E. Hines, Darryl I. Mackenzie, Mark E. Seamans, Ralph J Gutierrez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

137 Scopus citations


The distribution of a species over space is of central interest in ecology, but species occurrence does not provide all of the information needed to characterize either the well-being of a population or the suitability of occupied habitat. Recent methodological development has focused on drawing inferences about species occurrence in the face of imperfect detection. Here we extend those methods by characterizing occupied locations by some additional state variable (e.g., as producing young or not). Our modeling approach deals with both detection probabilities <1 and uncertainty in state classification. We then use the approach with occupancy and reproductive rate data from California Spotted Owls (Strix occidentalis occidentalis) collected in the central Sierra Nevada during the breeding season of 2004 to illustrate the utility of the modeling approach. Estimates of owl reproductive rate were larger than naïve estimates, indicating the importance of appropriately accounting for uncertainty in detection and state classification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1395-1400
Number of pages6
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2007


  • California spotted owl
  • Misclassification
  • Multiple states
  • Occupancy models
  • Reproductive state
  • Strix occidentalis occidentalis
  • Uncertainty


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