Bayesian Hierarchical Modeling and Markov Chain Simulation for Chronic Wasting Disease
In this thesis, a dynamic spatial model for the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease in Colorado mule deer is derived from a system of differential equations that captures the qualitative spatial and temporal behaviour of the disease. These differential equations are incorporated into an empirical Bayesian hierarchical model through the unusual step of deterministic autoregressive updates. Spatial effects in the model are described directly in the differential equations rather than through the use of correlations in the data. The use of deterministic updates is a simplification that reduces the number of parameters that must be estimated, yet still provides a flexible model that gives reasonable predictions for the disease. The posterior distribution generated by the data model hierarchy possesses characteristics that are atypical for many Markov chain Monte Carlo simulation techniques. To address these difficulties, a new MCMC technique is developed that has qualities similar to recently introduced tempered Langevin type algorithms. The methodology is used to fit the CWD model, and posterior parameter estimates are then used to obtain predictions about Chronic Wasting Disease.