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Quantifying expert opinion for modelling fauna habitat distributions

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  • Ecology
  • Geography


The practical elicitation of expert beliefs about logistic regression models is considered. An experiment is reported in which ecologists quantified their prior beliefs about the relationship between various environmental attributes and the habitat distribution of certain rare and endangered fauna. Prior distributions were elicited from the ecologists and combined with sample data to form posterior distributions. The elicitations method was proposed by Garthwaite and Al-Awadhi(2004) and is implemented through an interactive graphical computer program. Classical stepwise logistic regression and alternative forms of prior distribution are compared using cross validation. Data on the environmental attributes have been mapped and stored in a GIS database and the posterior distributions can be used to predict the probability of a species' presence/absence at any site in the database.

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