Empirical methods have been widely used in estimating fish natural mortality rate (M). However, these empirical methods are often perceived as being less reliable than direct methods. To improve the predictive performance and reliability of empirical methods, we develop ensemble learning models, including bagging trees, random forests, and boosting trees, to predict M based on a dataset with 324 stocks of both Chondrichthyes and Osteichthyes. Three common life-history parameters are used as predictors: the maximum age and two growth parameters (growth coefficient and asymptotic length). In addition, taxonomic rank class is included to distinguish elasmobranchs and teleosts. The results indicate that the tree-based ensemble learning methods significantly improve the accuracy of M estimate, compared to the traditional linear regression models and basic regression tree models. Among ensemble learning methods, the boosting trees and random forests perform best on training dataset, but the former performs a slightly better on test dataset. We develop four boosting tree models for estimating M based on varying life-history parameters and construct an R package for M estimation. The ensemble learning methods used in this paper can also be adopted in examining correlations among other life-history parameters and fisheries assessments to improve prediction accuracy.

This is a collaborative research project supervised by Professor Shijie Zhou in CSIRO and Professor Yougan Wang in QUT.

About Statistics, modelling and operations research seminars

Students, staff and visitors to UQ are welcome to attend our regular seminars.

The events are jointly run by our Operations research and Statistics and probability research groups, and colleagues in the Centre for Applications in Natural Resource Mathematics.

Seminars are usually held on Tuesdays from 11am to 12pm.

Information for speakers

Plan to speak for up to 40 minutes, and allow up to 15 minutes for questions and discussion.

Pitch your presentation to an interdisciplinary mathematical audience.

To avoid technical delays on the day, contact us a few days in advance of your presentation to discuss requirements.

You can either email us your presentation in advance, or save it to a memory stick. Microsoft PowerPoint presentations and PDFs are the most convenient file formats, but you can also run the talk from your own laptop.


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