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Modelling the covariance structure in marginal multivariate count models: Hunting in Bioko Island.

Bonat, WH and Olivero, J and Grande-Vega, M and Farfán, MA and Fa, John (2017) Modelling the covariance structure in marginal multivariate count models: Hunting in Bioko Island. Journal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Statistics, 22 (4). pp. 446-464. ISSN 1085-7117

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Abstract

The main goal of this article is to present a flexible statistical modelling framework to deal with multivariate count data along with longitudinal and repeated measures structures. The covariance structure for each response variable is defined in terms of a covariance link function combined with a matrix linear predictor involving known matrices. In order to specify the joint covariance matrix for the multivariate response vector, the generalized Kronecker product is employed. We take into account the count nature of the data by means of the power dispersion function associated with the Poisson–Tweedie distribution. Furthermore, the score information criterion is extended for selecting the components of the matrix linear predictor. We analyse a data set consisting of prey animals (the main hunted species, the blue duiker Philantomba monticola and other taxa) shot or snared for bushmeat by 52 commercial hunters over a 33-month period in Pico Basilé, Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea. By taking into account the severely unbalanced repeated measures and longitudinal structures induced by the hunters and a set of potential covariates (which in turn affect the mean and covariance structures), our method can be used to indicate whether there was statistical evidence of a decline in blue duikers and other species hunted during the study period. Determining whether observed drops in the number of animals hunted are indeed true is crucial to assess whether species depletion effects are taking place in exploited areas anywhere in the world. We suggest that our method can be used to more accurately understand the trajectories of animals hunted for commercial or subsistence purposes and establish clear policies to ensure sustainable hunting practices.

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