Residual demography is a recent concept that has proved to be a useful tool to gain insights about the age distributions of wild populations, especially insects. We develop an operator equation that permits the derivation of functionals of the age distribution in wild populations, such as mean age, within the framework of residual demography. Our method combines information from an observed captive cohort, which consists of subjects that are sampled from the wild with unknown ages and then raised in the laboratory until death, and from a reference cohort that consists of subjects raised in the laboratory since birth of the same population. Targeting functionals such as the mean of the wild age distribution has the advantage of avoiding strong assumptions such as stationarity and stability of the population that one would need when targeting the entire survival distribution in the wild. Our main result characterizes the existence of a solution of the operator equation that yields the functional of interest. The proposed method also enjoys straightforward and easy implementation. A data example is included illustrating an application, where one aims to attain the mean age of mosquitoes in the wild, based on seasonal captive cohorts from Greece and a simulated reference cohort, separately for various summer and fall months.
Journal of Mathematical Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 17, 2017
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