School Seminars and Colloquia

What do seals eat? A statistician's answer.

BELZ Lecture Series

by Christopher Field


Institution: Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS Canada
Date: Thu 2nd March 2006
Time: 4:15 PM
Location: Theatre 1, Old Geology Building

Abstract: The populations of seals in the Eastern North Atlantic continue to
grow and their large numbers raise concerns among fisherman who feel
that they contributed substantially to the collapse of the cod stock
and are preventing the recovery of this stock. There is both
scientific and political interest in determining what seals eat. In
this talk, I will describe the statistical approach we've taken in
answering this question. To do this requires we look at the data,
formulate a model, fit the data, assess the uncertainty in our
estimates and validate our results. A key biological fact is that as
seals eat, the fatty acid composition of their prey is reflected in
the fatty acid composition of the seal. My collaborators, Sara Iverson
(Biology, Dalhousie) and Don Bowen (Fisheries and Oceans) have
obtained reliable fatty acid profiles of both seals and their
potential prey on the Scotian Shelf giving us the data required to do
the estimation. Much of the data analysis and model fitting was done
in collaboration with Wade Blanchard (Dalhousie). Connie Stewart
(UNBSJ) made very good progress in developing reliable confidence
interval estimates in her PhD thesis.

For More Information: Owen Jones tel. 8344-6412 email: o.jones@ms.unimelb.edu.au