A hierarchical model for jointly assessing ecological and anthropogenic impacts on animal demography

Thomas V. Riecke, Benjamin S. Sedinger, Todd W. Arnold, Dan Gibson, David N. Koons, Madeleine G. Lohman, Michael Schaub, Perry J. Williams, James S. Sedinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The management of sustainable harvest of animal populations is of great ecological and conservation importance. Development of formal quantitative tools to estimate and mitigate the impacts of harvest on animal populations has positively impacted conservation efforts. The vast majority of existing harvest models, however, do not simultaneously estimate ecological and harvest impacts on demographic parameters and population trends. Given that the impacts of ecological drivers are often equal to or greater than the effects of harvest, and can covary with harvest, this disconnect has the potential to lead to flawed inference. In this study, we used Bayesian hierarchical models and a 43-year capture–mark–recovery dataset from 404,241 female mallards Anas platyrhynchos released in the North American midcontinent to estimate mallard demographic parameters. Furthermore, we model the dynamics of waterfowl hunters and habitat, and the direct and indirect effects of anthropogenic and ecological processes on mallard demographic parameters. We demonstrate that density dependence, habitat conditions and harvest can simultaneously impact demographic parameters of female mallards, and discuss implications for existing and future harvest management models. Our results demonstrate the importance of controlling for multicollinearity among demographic drivers in harvest management models, and provide evidence for multiple mechanisms that lead to partial compensation of mallard harvest. We provide a novel model structure to assess these relationships that may allow for improved inference and prediction in future iterations of harvest management models across taxa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1612-1626
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Animal Ecology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • Anas platyrhynchos
  • Bayesian
  • cause-specific mortality
  • demography
  • harvest
  • hierarchical model
  • mallard
  • multicollinearity
  • survival


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