Model selection criteria for overdispersed data and their application to the characterization of a host-parasite relationship

Hyun Joo Kim, Truman State University
Joseph E. Cavanaugh, University of Iowa
Tad A. Dallas, University of Georgia
Stephanie A. Foré, Truman State University


In the statistical modeling of a biological or ecological phenomenon, selecting an optimal model among a collection of candidates is a critical issue. To identify an optimal candidate model, a number of model selection criteria have been developed and investigated based on estimating Kullback's (Information theory and statistics. Dover, Mineola, 1968) directed or symmetric divergence. Criteria that target the directed divergence include the Akaike (2nd international symposium on information theory. Akadémia Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary, pp 267-281, 1973, IEEE Trans Autom Control AC 19:716-723, 1974) information criterion, AIC, and the "corrected" Akaike information criterion (Hurvich and Tsai in Biometrika 76:297-307, 1989), AICc; criteria that target the symmetric divergence include the Kullback information criterion, KIC, and the "corrected" Kullback information criterion, KICc (Cavanaugh in Stat Probab Lett 42:333-343, 1999; Aust N Z J Stat 46:257-274, 2004). For overdispersed count data, simple modifications of AIC and AICc have been increasingly utilized: specifically, the quasi Akaike information criterion, QAIC, and its corrected version, QAICc (Lebreton et al. in Ecol Monogr 62(1):67-118 1992). In this paper, we propose analogues of QAIC and QAICc based on estimating the symmetric as opposed to the directed divergence: QKIC and QKICc. We evaluate the selection performance of AIC, AICc, QAIC, QAICc, KIC, KICc, QKIC, and QKICc in a simulation study, and illustrate their practical utility in an ecological application. In our application, we use the criteria to formulate statistical models of the tick (Dermacentor variabilis) load on a white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) in northern Missouri. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York.