We present a new class of statistical models, designed for life history analysis of plants and animals, that allow joint analysis of data on survival and reproduction over multiple years, allow for variables having different probability distributions, and correctly account for the dependence of variables on earlier variables. We illustrate their utility with an analysis of data taken from an experimental study of Echinacea angustifolia sampled from remnant prairie populations in western Minnesota. These models generalize both generalized linear models and survival analysis. The joint distribution is factorized as a product of conditional distributions, each an exponential family with the conditioning variable being the sample size of the conditional distribution. The model may be heterogeneous, each conditional distribution being from a different exponential family. We show that the joint distribution is from a flat exponential family and derive its canonical parameters, Fisher information and other properties. These models are implemented in an R package 'aster' available from the Comprehensive R Archive Network, CRAN.
- Conditional exponential family
- Flat exponential family
- Generalized linear model
- Graphical model
- Maximum likelihood