Applications: Estimating the Relative Density of Snapper in and around a Marine Reserve Using a Log-Linear Mixed-Effects Model

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Abstract

Angling from small recreational fishing boats was used as a sampling method to quantify the relative density of snapper (Pagrus auratus) in six areas within the Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve (New Zealand) and four areas adjacent to the reserve. Penalized quasi-likelihood was used to fit a log-linear mixed-effects model having area and date as fixed effects and boat as a random effect. Simulation and first-order bias correction formulae were employed to assess the validity of the estimates of the area effects. The bias correction is known to be unsuitable for general use because it typically over-estimatesbias, and this was observed here. However, it was qualitatively useful for indicating the direction of bias and for indicating when estimators were approximately unbiased. The parameter of primary interest was the ratio of snapper density in the marine reserve versus snapper density outside the reserve, and the estimator of this parameter was first-order asymptotically unbiased. This ratio of snapper densities was estimated to be 11 (±3).

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