Journal article

Inferring extinctions from sighting records of variable reliability

Tamsin E Lee, Michael A McCarthy, Brendan A Wintle, Michael Bode, David L Roberts, Mark A Burgman



A range of mathematical models has been developed to infer whether a species is extinct based on a sighting record. Although observations have variable reliability, current methods for detecting extinction do not differentiate observation qualities. A more suitable approach would consider certain and uncertain sightings throughout the sighting period. We consider a small population system, meaning we assume sighting rates are constant and the population is not declining. Based on such an assumption, we develop a Bayesian method that assumes that certain and uncertain sightings occur independently and at uniform rates. These two types of sightings are connected by a common extinction date. Se..

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Funding Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Andrew Solow, Colin Thompson, Gurutzeta Guillera-Arroita, Jose Lahoz-Monfort and reviewers for helpful comments and to Birdlife International for the data. This work was supported by the National Environment Research Program Decisions Hub, the Australian Centre of Excellence for Risk Analysis and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.