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Bayesian analysis of Jolly-Seber type models : Incorporating heterogeneity in arrival and departure

Matechou, Eleni, Nicholls, Geoff K., Morgan, Byron J. T., Collazo, Jaime A., Lyons, James E.
Environmental and ecological statistics 2016 v.23 no.4 pp. 531-547
Bayesian theory, Calidris pusilla, algorithms, animals, data collection, models, wildlife
We propose the use of finite mixtures of continuous distributions in modelling the process by which new individuals, that arrive in groups, become part of a wildlife population. We demonstrate this approach using a data set of migrating semipalmated sandpipers (Calidris pussila) for which we extend existing stopover models to allow for individuals to have different behaviour in terms of their stopover duration at the site. We demonstrate the use of reversible jump MCMC methods to derive posterior distributions for the model parameters and the models, simultaneously. The algorithm moves between models with different numbers of arrival groups as well as between models with different numbers of behavioural groups. The approach is shown to provide new ecological insights about the stopover behaviour of semipalmated sandpipers but is generally applicable to any population in which animals arrive in groups and potentially exhibit heterogeneity in terms of one or more other processes.