Challenger wins award at Student Poster Competition at International Statistical Ecology Conference.


Congratulations to Wendell Challenger on receiving an award for the Student Paper Competition at the International Statistical Ecology Conference held at the University of Kent, Canterbury, England 5-9 July 2010.

His poster was entitled "Modelling non-independent fates in mark-recapture experiments".

Most mark-recapture models make the assumption that the fates among individuals will be independent in order to estimate aggregate statistics such as demographic parameters. However, a number of species (e.g. migratory birds) can be expected to violate this assumption due to biologically relevant factors such as pair bonds. Depending on the degree on non-independence there is the potential for parameter estimates to become biased or for variance to be underestimated. Furthermore, far from being a nuisance issue, non-independence may also be of direct of interest to biologists as it pertains to partially observable relationship structures that carries with it meaningful biological information. We approach this problem using random effects to model the non-independence of Harlequin duck breeding pairs within a Bayesian framework. Using a 12-year data set on known or suspected breeding pairs, we look at the effect of non-impendence on capture and survival rate estimates as well as attempt to estimate the underlying latent relationship structure.