Laura Cowen

Laura Cowen
Associate Professor
Mathematics and Statistics

PhD, Simon Fraser University

Office: DTB A446

I am an ecological statistician studying animal demography, in particular through capture-recapture methods and applications. I have worked on human, fishery, aquaculture, and seabird populations estimating population parameters such as survival and abundances and developing statistical methods to provide these estimates. I also collaborate with other scientists (such as ecologists, fisheries scientists, microbiologists, seabird biologists) to work on ecological problems in the broader sense. Finally, I collaborate with sociologists and anthropologists looking at aspects of injection drug user populations and modeling lemur populations.


  • Ecological statistics
  • Capture-recapture
  • Tag loss
  • Batch marking
  • Hidden Markov models

Faces of UVic Research video

In this video, Laura talks about her work as a statistical ecologist and the research she conducts looking at real world problems.


Selected Publications

  • van Dam-Bates, P., D.L. Curtis, L.L.E. Cowen, S.F. Cross, and C.M. Pearce. 2016. Assessing movement of the California sea cucumber (Parastichopus californicus) in response to organically-enriched areas typical of aquaculture sites. Aquaculture Environment Interactions, 8:67-76.
  • van Dam-Bates, P., M. Fyfe, and L.L.E. Cowen. 2015. Applying open population capture-recapture models to estimate the abundance of injection drug users in Victoria, Canada. Journal of Substance Use, 21:, 185-190.
  • Xu, Y., M. Fyfe, L. Walker, and L.L.E. Cowen. 2014. Estimating the number of injection drug users in greater Victoria, Canada using capture-recapture methods. Harm Reduction J. 11:9.
  • Cowen, L.L.E., P. Besbeas, B.J.T. Morgan, C.J. Schwarz. 2014. A comparison of abundance estimates from extended batch-marking and Jolly-Seber type experiments. Ecology and Evolution, 4, 210-218.
  • Cowen, L.L.E., W.O. Challenger, and C.J. Schwarz. 2014. What do salmon and injection drug users have in common? Statistical Society of Canada's special issue in Statistics in Action: A Canadian Outlook. J.F. Lawless editor. Chapman and Hall/CRC Press. 269-288.
  • Xu, Y., L.L.E. Cowen, and C. Gardner. 2014. Group Heterogeneity in the Jolly-Seber-Tag-Loss Model. Statistical Methodology, 17, 3-16.
  • Gonzalez, S., and L. Cowen. 2010. The Jolly-Seber-Tag-Loss Model with Group Heterogeneity. The Arbutus Review 1, 30-42.
  • Cowen, L., S.J. Walsh, C.J. Schwarz, N. Cadigan, and J. Morgan, 2009. Estimating exploitation rates of a migrating population of yellowtail flounders using multi-state mark-recapture methods incorporating tag-loss and variable reporting rates. Can. J. Fish. Aquatic Sc. 66, 1245-1273.
  • Cowen, L. and C.J. Schwarz, 2006. The Jolly-Seber model with tag loss. Biometrics 62, 699-705.
  • Cowen, L. and C.J. Schwarz, 2005. Capture-recapture studies using radio telemetry with premature radio-tag failure. Biometrics 61, 657-664.