Zero Tolerance Ecology: Improving Ecological Inference By Modelling the Source of Zero Observations

Martin, Tara G., Wintle, Brendan A., Rhodes, Jonathan R., Kuhnert, Petra M., Field, Scott A., Low-Choy, Samantha J., Tyre, Andrew J. and Possingham, Hugh P. (2005) Zero Tolerance Ecology: Improving Ecological Inference By Modelling the Source of Zero Observations. Ecology Letters, 8 11: 1235-1246. doi:10.1111/j.1461-0248.2005.00826.x

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Author Martin, Tara G.
Wintle, Brendan A.
Rhodes, Jonathan R.
Kuhnert, Petra M.
Field, Scott A.
Low-Choy, Samantha J.
Tyre, Andrew J.
Possingham, Hugh P.
Title Zero Tolerance Ecology: Improving Ecological Inference By Modelling the Source of Zero Observations
Journal name Ecology Letters   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1461-023X
Publication date 2005-01-01
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
DOI 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2005.00826.x
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 8
Issue 11
Start page 1235
End page 1246
Total pages 12
Place of publication Oxford
Publisher Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Language eng
Subject 270703 Terrestrial Ecology
0602 Ecology
Abstract A common feature of ecological datasets is their tendency to contain many zero values. Statistical inference based on such data is likely to be inefficient or wrong unless careful thought is given to how these zeros arose and how best to model them. In this paper, we propose a framework for understanding how zero-inflated datasets originate and deciding how best to model them. We define and classify the different kinds of zeros that occur in ecological data and describe how they arise: either from 'true zero' or 'false zero' observations. After reviewing recent developments in modelling zero-inflated datasets, we use practical examples to demonstrate how failing to account for the source of zero-inflation can reduce our ability to detect relationships in ecological data and at worst lead to incorrect inference. The adoption of methods that explicitly model the sources of zero observations will sharpen insights and improve the robustness of ecological analyses.
Keyword Bayesian inference
excess zeros
false negative
mixture model
observation error
sampling error
zero-inflated binomial
zero-inflated Poisson
Q-Index Code C1
Additional Notes Originally published as Tara G. Martin, Brendan A. Wintle, Jonathan R. Rhodes, Petra M. Kuhnert, Scott A. Field, Samantha J. Low-Choy, Andrew J. Tyre and Hugh P. Possingham (2005) Zero tolerance ecology: improving ecological inference by modelling the source of zero observations, Ecology Letters 8: 1235-1246. doi: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2005.00826.x Copyright Blackwell Publishing 2005. All rights reserved.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collections: Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
AEDA Publications
Spatial Ecology Lab Publications
2006 Higher Education Research Data Collection
Ecology Centre Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 401 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 397 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Fri, 04 Nov 2005, 10:00:00 EST by Tara G Martin on behalf of School of Biological Sciences