Estimation bias under model selection for distance sampling detection functions
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Many simulation studies have examined the properties of distance sampling estimators of wildlife population size. When assumptions hold, if distances are generated from a detection model and fitted using the same model, they are known to perform well. However, in practice, the true model is unknown. Therefore, standard practice includes model selection, typically using model comparison tools like Akaike Information Criterion. Here we examine the performance of standard distance sampling estimators under model selection. We compare line and point transect estimators with distances simulated from two detection functions, hazard-rate and exponential power series (EPS), over a range of sample sizes. To mimic the real-world context where the true model may not be part of the candidate set, EPS models were not included as candidates, except for the half-normal parameterization. We found median bias depended on sample size (being asymptotically unbiased) and on the form of the true detection function: negative bias (up to 15% for line transects and 30% for point transects) when the shoulder of maximum detectability was narrow, and positive bias (up to 10% for line transects and 15% for point transects) when it was wide. Generating unbiased simulations requires careful choice of detection function or very large datasets. Practitioners should collect data that result in detection functions with a shoulder similar to a half-normal and use the monotonicity constraint. Narrow-shouldered detection functions can be avoided through good field procedures and those with wide shoulder are unlikely to occur, due to heterogeneity in detectability.
Prieto Gonzalez , R , Thomas , L J & Marques , T A L O 2017 , ' Estimation bias under model selection for distance sampling detection functions ' Environmental and Ecological Statistics , vol First Online . DOI: 10.1007/s10651-017-0376-0
Environmental and Ecological Statistics
© The Author(s) 2017. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
TAM thanks support by CEAUL (funded by FCT—Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, Portugal, through the Project UID/MAT/00006/2013)
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