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Knowledge of organisms’ growth rates and ages at sexual maturity is important for conservation efforts and a wide variety of studies in ecology and evolutionary biology. However, these life history parameters may be difficult to obtain from natural populations: individuals encountered may be of unknown age, information on age at sexual maturity may be uncertain and interval-censored, and growth data may include both individual heterogeneity and measurement errors. We analyzed mark–recapture data for Red-backed Salamanders (Plethodon cinereus) to compare sex-specific growth rates and ages at sexual maturity. Aging of individuals was made possible by the use of a von Bertalanffy model of growth, complemented with...
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Much of animal ecology is devoted to studies of abundance and occurrence of species, based on surveys of spatially referenced sample units. These surveys frequently yield sparse counts that are contaminated by imperfect detection, making direct inference about abundance or occurrence based on observational data infeasible. This article describes a flexible hierarchical modeling framework for estimation and inference about animal abundance and occurrence from survey data that are subject to imperfect detection. Within this framework, we specify models of abundance and detectability of animals at the level of the local populations defined by the sample units. Information at the level of the local population is aggregated...
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Knowledge of population size and trend is necessary to manage anthropogenic risks to polar bears (Ursus maritimus). Despite capturing over 1,025 females between 1967 and 1998, previously calculated estimates of the size of the southern Beaufort Sea (SBS) population have been unreliable. We improved estimates of numbers of polar bears by modeling heterogeneity in capture probability with covariates. Important covariates referred to the year of the study, age of the bear, capture effort, and geographic location. Our choice of best approximating model was based on the inverse relationship between variance in parameter estimates and likelihood of the fit and suggested a growth from ≈ 500 to over 1,000 females during...
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The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is a valuable source of information about midwinter populations of birds in the continental U.S. and Canada. Analysis of CBC data is complicated by substantial variation among sites and years in effort expended in counting; this feature of the CBC is common to many other wildlife surveys. Specification of a method for adjusting counts for effort is a matter of some controversy. Here, we present models for longitudinal count surveys with varying effort; these describe the effect of effort as proportional to exp(B effortp), where B and p are parameters. For any fixed p, our models are loglinear in the transformed explanatory variable (effort)p and other covariables. Hence we fit a collection...
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One of the most important needs for wildlife managers is an accurate estimate of population size. Yet, for many species, including most marine species and large mammals, accurate and precise estimation of numbers is one of the most difficult of all research challenges. Open-population capture-recapture models have proven useful in many situations to estimate survival probabilities but typically have not been used to estimate population size. We show that open-population models can be used to estimate population size by developing a Horvitz-Thompson-type estimate of population size and an estimator of its variance. Our population size estimate keys on the probability of capture at each trap occasion and therefore...
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In a spatial regression context, scientists are often interested in a physical interpretation of components of the parametric covariance function. For example, spatial covariance parameter estimates in ecological settings have been interpreted to describe spatial heterogeneity or “patchiness” in a landscape that cannot be explained by measured covariates. In this article, we investigate the influence of the strength of spatial dependence on maximum likelihood (ML) and restricted maximum likelihood (REML) estimates of covariance parameters in an exponential-with-nugget model, and we also examine these influences under different sampling designs—specifically, lattice designs and more realistic random and cluster designs—at...
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Current management of the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) population in Yellowstone National Park and surrounding areas requires annual estimation of the number of adult female bears with cubs-of-the-year. We examined the performance of nine estimators of population size via simulation. Data were simulated using two methods for different combinations of population size, sample size, and coefficient of variation of individual sighting probabilities. We show that the coefficient of variation does not, by itself, adequately describe the effects of capture heterogeneity, because two different distributions of capture probabilities can have the same coefficient of variation. All estimators produced biased estimates of population...
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A drop in dispersion, F-ratio like, permutation test (D) for linear quantile regression estimates (0≤τ≤1) had relative power ≥1 compared to quantile rank score tests (T) for hypotheses on parameters other than the intercept. Power was compared for combinations of sample sizes (n=20−300) and quantiles (τ=0.50−0.99) where both tests maintained valid Type I error rates in simulations with p=2 and 6 parameters in homogeneous and heterogeneous error models. The D test required two modifications of permuting residuals from null, reduced parameter models to maintain correct Type I error rates when null models were constrained through the origin or included multiple parameters. A double permutation scheme was used when...