Integrated population models facilitate ecological understanding and improved management decisions

Todd W. Arnold, Robert G. Clark, David N. Koons, Michael Schaub

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Integrated population models (IPMs) represent a formal statistical methodology for combining multiple data sets such as population counts, band recoveries, and fecundity estimates into a single unified analysis with dual objectives: better estimating population size, trajectory, and vital rates; and formally describing the ecological processes that generated these patterns. Although IPMs have been used in population ecology and fisheries management, their use in wildlife management has been limited. Data sets available for North American waterfowl are unprecedented in terms of time span (>60 years) and geographic coverage, and are especially well-suited for development of IPMs that could improve the understanding of population ecology and help guide future harvest and habitat management decisions. In this overview, we illustrate 3 potential benefits of IPMs: integration of multiple data sources (i.e., population counts, mark-recapture data, and fecundity estimates), increased precision of parameter estimates, and ability to estimate missing demographic parameters by reanalyzing results from a historical study of canvasbacks (Aythya valisineria). Drawing from our own published and unpublished work, we demonstrate how IPMs could be used to identify the critical vital rates that have had the greatest influence on population change in lesser scaup (Aythya affinis), evaluate potential mechanisms of harvest compensation for American black ducks (Anas rubripes), or prioritize the most appropriate places to conduct habitat management to benefit northern pintails (Anas acuta). Integrated population models provide a powerful platform for evaluating alternative hypotheses about population regulation and they have potential to advance the understanding of wildlife ecology and help managers make ecologically based decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)266-274
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Wildlife Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018


  • band recovery
  • fecundity
  • harvest surveys
  • integrated population models
  • survival
  • waterfowl management


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