Model evaluation in statistical population reconstruction

John R. Skalski, Michael V. Clawson, Joshua J. Millspaugh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Statistical population reconstruction can be a valuable tool for monitoring the status and trends of game populations at large spatial scales using age-at-harvest data. Despite their utility and increasing use in demographic studies, it is necessary that these models be evaluated before their results are applied. We recommend practitioners evaluate their fitted population models using a variety of approaches, including residual analyses, point-deletion techniques and sensitivity analyses, and we illustrate these techniques using several case studies. Although we stress the value of these quantitative procedures, the final evaluation criterion should be the biological realism of the estimated demographic parameters and trends. Auxiliary field data should be used whenever possible in this final model check. After investigators are satisfied that the selected model(s) is/are adequate, this auxiliary data can be incorporated in a final stage of the analyses to further improve accuracy and precision of the population projections. The procedures we outline and recommendations we make will improve the credibility and utility of results of population reconstruction modeling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-234
Number of pages10
JournalWildlife Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • abundance estimation
  • age-at-harvest data
  • model evaluation
  • model selection
  • numerical optimization
  • population reconstruction
  • residual analyses


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