A Novel Method to Estimate Prey Contributions to Predator Diets

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Authors Pamela E. Moriarty, Timothy E. Essington, Eric J. Ward
Journal/Conference Name Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Paper Category
Paper Abstract Stomach content data are frequently used to characterize predator feeding habits, often by describing the proportional contribution by mass or number of each prey type (diet fractions). These data pose several statistical challenges for analysis and estimation that have hindered our ability to create quantitative diet fraction estimates from stomach content data. To address these challenges, we developed a novel, likelihood-based mixture model to quantitatively estimate diet fractions. Simulation testing indicated that estimated diet fractions from the mixture model were more precise than those estimated either from a (stomach mass) weighted mean or the sample mean and were more accurate than a sample mean. Additionally, we applied the mixture model, a weighted mean, and sample mean to stomach content data for multiple types of predators. For three of four of these data sets, the mixture model demonstrated higher precision than and similar accuracy to a weighted mean and similar precision and better accuracy than a sample mean. The mixture model represents an important step in advancing statistical methods to address the challenges of stomach content data.
Date of publication 2016
Code Programming Language R
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