Parameter estimation in a growth model for a biological population

Pignotti, Elettra (2013) Parameter estimation in a growth model for a biological population, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Metodologia statistica per la ricerca scientifica, 24 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/5169.
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The motivating problem concerns the estimation of the growth curve of solitary corals that follow the nonlinear Von Bertalanffy Growth Function (VBGF). The most common parameterization of the VBGF for corals is based on two parameters: the ultimate length L∞ and the growth rate k. One aim was to find a more reliable method for estimating these parameters, which can capture the influence of environmental covariates. The main issue with current methods is that they force the linearization of VBGF and neglect intra-individual variability. The idea was to use the hierarchical nonlinear model which has the appealing features of taking into account the influence of collection sites, possible intra-site measurement correlation and variance heterogeneity, and that can handle the influence of environmental factors and all the reliable information that might influence coral growth. This method was used on two databases of different solitary corals i.e. Balanophyllia europaea and Leptopsammia pruvoti, collected in six different sites in different environmental conditions, which introduced a decisive improvement in the results. Nevertheless, the theory of the energy balance in growth ascertains the linear correlation of the two parameters and the independence of the ultimate length L∞ from the influence of environmental covariates, so a further aim of the thesis was to propose a new parameterization based on the ultimate length and parameter c which explicitly describes the part of growth ascribable to site-specific conditions such as environmental factors. We explored the possibility of estimating these parameters characterizing the VBGF new parameterization via the nonlinear hierarchical model. Again there was a general improvement with respect to traditional methods. The results of the two parameterizations were similar, although a very slight improvement was observed in the new one. This is, nevertheless, more suitable from a theoretical point of view when considering environmental covariates.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Pignotti, Elettra
Dottorato di ricerca
Scuola di dottorato
Scienze economiche e statistiche
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Data di discussione
25 Febbraio 2013

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