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When estimating the size of a population of birds, the investigator may have, in addition to an estimator based on a statistical sample, information on one of several auxiliary variables, such as: (1) estimates of the population made on previous occasions, (2) measures of habitat variables associated with the size of the population, and (3) estimates of the population sizes of other species that correlate with the species of interest. Although many studies have described the relationships between each of these kinds of data and the population size to be estimated, very little work has been done to improve the estimator by incorporating such auxiliary information. A statistical methodology termed 'empirical Bayes' seems to be appropriate to these situations. The potential that empirical Bayes methodology has for improved estimation of the population size of the Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) is explored. In the example considered, three empirical Bayes estimators were found to reduce the error by one-fourth to one-half of that of the usual estimator.
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Improved population estimates through the use of auxiliary information