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Bayesian model averaging for harmful algal bloom prediction

Hamilton, Grant S., McVinish, Ross S., & Mengersen, Kerrie L. (2009) Bayesian model averaging for harmful algal bloom prediction. Ecological Applications, 19(7), pp. 1805-1814.

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Abstract

Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) are a worldwide problem that have been increasing in frequency and extent over the past several decades. HABs severely damage aquatic ecosystems by destroying benthic habitat, reducing invertebrate and fish populations and affecting larger species such as dugong that rely on seagrasses for food. Few statistical models for predicting HAB occurrences have been developed, and in common with most predictive models in ecology, those that have been developed do not fully account for uncertainties in parameters and model structure. This makes management decisions based on these predictions more risky than might be supposed. We used a probit time series model and Bayesian Model Averaging (BMA) to predict occurrences of blooms of Lyngbya majuscula, a toxic cyanophyte, in Deception Bay, Queensland, Australia. We found a suite of useful predictors for HAB occurrence, with Temperature figuring prominently in models with the majority of posterior support, and a model consisting of the single covariate average monthly minimum temperature showed by far the greatest posterior support. A comparison of alternative model averaging strategies was made with one strategy using the full posterior distribution and a simpler approach that utilised the majority of the posterior distribution for predictions but with vastly fewer models. Both BMA approaches showed excellent predictive performance with little difference in their predictive capacity. Applications of BMA are still rare in ecology, particularly in management settings. This study demonstrates the power of BMA as an important management tool that is capable of high predictive performance while fully accounting for both parameter and model uncertainty.

Impact and interest:

11 citations in Scopus
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11 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 27647
Item Type: Journal Article
Additional URLs:
DOI: 10.1890/08-1843.1
ISSN: 1051-0761
Divisions: Past > Schools > Biogeoscience
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Past > Schools > Mathematical Sciences
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2009 Ecological Society of America
Deposited On: 01 Oct 2009 08:16
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 23:58

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