To facilitate decisions to classify species according to risk of extinction, we used Bayesian methods to analyze trend data for the Spectacled Eider, an arctic sea duck. Trend data from three independent surveys of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta were analyzed individually and in combination to yield posterior distributions for population growth rates. We used classification criteria developed by the recovery team for Spectacled Eiders that seek to equalize errors of under- or overprotecting the species. We conducted both a Bayesian decision analysis and a frequentist (classical statistical inference) decision analysis. Bayesian decision analyses are computationally easier, yield basically the same results, and yield results that are easier to explain to nonscientists. With the exception of the aerial survey analysis of the 10 most recent years, both Bayesian and frequentist methods indicated that an endangered classification is warranted. The discrepancy between surveys warrants further research. Although the trend data are abundance indices, we used a preliminary estimate of absolute abundance to demonstrate how to calculate extinction distributions using the joint probability distributions for population growth rate and variance in growth rate generated by the Bayesian analysis. Recent apparent increases in abundance highlight the need for models that apply to declining and then recovering species.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||A bayesian approach to classification criteria for spectacled eiders|
|Series title||Ecological Applications|
|Contributing office(s)||Alaska Science Center|
|Other Geospatial||Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta|