Data from: Combining data‐derived priors with postrelease monitoring data to predict persistence of reintroduced populations
Drummond, Faline M.; Lovegrove, Tim G.; Armstrong, Doug P. (2019), Data from: Combining data‐derived priors with postrelease monitoring data to predict persistence of reintroduced populations, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.378qm5j
Monitoring is an essential part of reintroduction programs, but many years of data may be needed to obtain reliable population projections. This duration can potentially be reduced by incorporating prior information on expected vital rates (survival and fecundity) when making inferences from monitoring data. The prior distributions for these parameters can be derived from data for previous reintroductions, but it is important to account for site‐to‐site variation. We evaluated whether such informative priors improved our ability to estimate the finite rate of increase (λ) of the North Island robin (Petroica longipes) population reintroduced to Tawharanui Regional Park, New Zealand. We assessed how precision improved with each year of postrelease data added, comparing models that used informative or uninformative priors. The population grew from about 22 to 80 individuals from 2007 to 2016, with λ estimated to be 1.23 if density dependence was included in the model and 1.13 otherwise. Under either model, 7 years of data were required before the lower 95% credible limit for λ was > 1, giving confidence that the population would persist. The informative priors did not reduce this requirement. Data‐derived priors are useful before reintroduction because they allow λ to be estimated in advance. However, in the case examined here, the value of the priors was overwhelmed once site‐specific monitoring data became available. The Bayesian method presented is logical for reintroduced populations. It allows prior information (used to inform prerelease decisions) to be integrated with postrelease monitoring. This makes full use of the data for ongoing management decisions. However, if the priors properly account for site‐to‐site variation, they may have little predictive value compared with the site‐specific data. This value will depend on the degree of site‐to‐site variation as well as the quality of the data.
Tawharanui Regional Park