• An application of an integrated population model: estimating population size of the Fortymile caribou herd using limited data

      Inokuma, Megumi; Short, Margaret; Barry, Ron; Goddard, Scott (2017-05)
      An Integrated Population Model (IPM) was employed to estimate the population size of the Fortymile Caribou herd (FCH), utilizing multiple types of biological data. Current population size estimates of the FCH are made by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) using an aerial photo census technique. Taking aerial photos for the counts requires certain environmental conditions, such as the existence of swarms of mosquitoes that drive the majority of caribou to wide open spaces, as well as favorable weather conditions, which allow low-altitude flying in mid-June. These conditions have not been met in recent years so there is no count estimate for those years. IPMs are considered as alternative methods to estimate a population size. IPMs contain three components: a stochastic component that explains the relationship between biological information and population size; demographic models that derive parameters from independently conducted surveys; and a link between IPM estimates and observed-count estimates. In this paper, we combine census count data, parturition data, calf and female adults survival data, and sex composition data, all of which were collected by ADF&G between 1990 and 2016. During this time period, there were 13 years - including two five-consecutive-year periods - for which no photo census count estimates were available. We estimate the missing counts and the associated uncertainty using a Bayesian IPM. Our case study shows that IPMs are capable of estimating a population size for years with missing count data when we have other biological data. We suggest that sensitivity analyses be done to learn the relationship between amount of data and the accuracy of the estimates.
    • Pacific sleeper sharks in the Northeast Pacific Ocean: relative abundance, plausible incidental exploitation rates, trophic ecology, and habitat use

      Courtney, Dean Louis; Adkison, Milo D.; Foy, Robert; Sigler, Mike; Criddle, Keith R.; DiNardo, Gerard (2017-12)
      Pacific sleeper shark relative abundance indices in the eastern Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska were developed from sablefish longline surveys and the sustainability of a plausible range in Pacific sleeper shark incidental exploitation rates in the Gulf of Alaska was evaluated with a risk analysis using Monte Carlo simulation for use in fisheries management. A significant increase in Pacific sleeper shark relative abundance was identified in the Gulf of Alaska during the years 1989-2003. The aggregate risk of ending in an overfished condition in the Gulf of Alaska increased from 0% under a low exploitation rate scenario to 59% under a high exploitation rate scenario. Baseline information about Pacific sleeper shark trophic ecology and habitat utilization in the eastern Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska was developed for use in ecosystem-based fishery management. Analysis of stable isotope ratios of nitrogen (δ¹⁵N) and lipid normalized carbon (δ¹³C′) identified significant geographic and ontogenetic variability in the trophic ecology of Pacific sleeper sharks in the eastern Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska and revealed wider variability in the feeding ecology of Pacific sleeper sharks than previously obtained from diet data based on stomach contents alone. Time series analysis of Pacific sleeper shark electronic tag data from the Gulf of Alaska identified a simple autoregressive relationship governing short-term movements (hours) throughout the time series which included substantial variation in longer time period movement patterns (months) and demonstrated that statistical inference about habitat utilization could be drawn from simultaneous analysis of an entire time series depth profile (six months of data) stored on an electronic archival tag.