A Bayesian Approach to Combining Animal Abundance and Demographic Data

Stephen P. Brooks, Ruth King and Byron J.T. Morgan

Universities of Cambridge, St. Andrews and Kent


In studies of wild animals, one frequently encounters both census and mark-recapture-recovery data. Here, we consider an integrated Bayesian analysis of ring-recovery and census data using a state-space model allowing for the fact that not all members of the population are directly observable. We then impose a Leslie-matrix-based model on the true population counts describing the natural birth-death and age transition processes. We focus upon the analysis of both census and recovery data collected on British Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus) combined with records of the number of frost days each winter. We demonstrate how the combined analysis of these data provides a more robust inferential framework and discuss how the Bayesian approach using MCMC enables us remove the potentially restrictive normality assumptions commonly assumed for analyses of this sort. It is shown how WinBUGS may be used to perform the Bayesian analysis. WinBUGS code is provided and its performance is critically discussed.


Census Data; Common Birds Census; Integrated Analysis; Kalman Filter; Logistic Regression; Ring-Recovery Data; State-Space Model; Statistical Ecology; Survival; Wildlife; WinBUGS.

Appeared as Brooks, S. P., King, R. and Morgan, B. J. T. (2004) "A Bayesian Approach to Combining Animal Abundance and Demographic Data". Animal Biodiversity and Conservation 27 pp 515-529