Statistical Science

A Conversation with G. A. F. Seber

Richard Barker

Full-text: Open access


In a career spanning more than 50 years, George Arthur Frederick Seber has made significant contributions in many areas of statistics as well as foundational work in capture–recapture modeling. Seber was born in 1938 in Australia to New Zealand parents and moved back to New Zealand where he completed almost all of his schooling. After graduating with bachelors and masters degrees from the University of Auckland, Seber studied for his Ph.D. at Manchester on a Commonwealth Scholarship. In his first year, he was supervised by John Darroch with David Silvey taking over supervision for the final 18 months of the degree. Seber’s Ph.D. thesis was remarkably fruitful leading to three papers in Biometrika, two in the Annals of Mathematical Statistics and one in the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society B. The topics covered were broad mixing foundational work on linear model theory with capture–recapture problems. His solution to the multi-sample single recapture problem anticipated the general solution to the open population problem that Seber published in 1965 concurrent with the work of George Jolly.

Seber has been a prolific writer of books including classical texts on the linear model and nonlinear regression. His comprehensive book The Estimation of Animal Abundance appeared in two editions. He has recently completed four books and is working on a book on open population capture recapture.

Seber took up an invited personal Chair in Biometrics at the University of Otago in 1971, and then the foundational Chair in Statistics at the University of Auckland in 1973. Seber developed a remarkable statistics group built around people such as Jeffrey Hunter, Alan Lee, Alastair Scott, Chris Triggs and Chris Wild, all of whom went on to hold Chairs in Statistics and to head Departments of Statistics in New Zealand. Seber was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand (RSNZ) in 1997 and in 1999 was awarded the Hector Medal by the RSNZ.

Article information

Statist. Sci., Volume 31, Number 2 (2016), 151-160.

First available in Project Euclid: 24 May 2016

Permanent link to this document

Digital Object Identifier

Mathematical Reviews number (MathSciNet)

Zentralblatt MATH identifier

George Seber Jolly–Seber model


Barker, Richard. A Conversation with G. A. F. Seber. Statist. Sci. 31 (2016), no. 2, 151--160. doi:10.1214/16-STS556.

Export citation


  • Cormack, R. M. (1964). Estimates of survival from the sighting of marked animals. Biometrika 51 429–438.
  • Darroch, J. N. (1958). The multiple-recapture census. I. Estimation of a closed population. Biometrika 45 343–359.
  • Darroch, J. N. (1959). The multiple-recapture census. II. Estimation when there is immigration or death. Biometrika 46 336–351.
  • Jolly, G. M. (1965). Explicit estimates from capture–recapture data with both death and immigration-stochastic model. Biometrika 52 225–247.
  • Schwarz, C. J. and Seber, G. A. F. (1999). A review of estimating animal abundance: Review III. Statist. Sci. 14 427–456.
  • Seber, G. A. F. (1962). The multi-sample single recapture census. Biometrika 49 339–350.
  • Seber, G. A. F. (1963). The non-central chi-squared and beta distributions. Biometrika 50 542–544.
  • Seber, G. A. F. (1964a). Linear hypotheses and induced tests. Biometrika 51 41–47.
  • Seber, G. A. F. (1964b). Orthogonality in analysis of variance. Ann. Math. Stat. 35 705–710.
  • Seber, G. A. F. (1964c). The linear hypothesis and large sample theory. Ann. Math. Stat. 35 773–779.
  • Seber, G. A. F. (1964d). The linear hypothesis and idempotent matrices. J. R. Stat. Soc. Ser. B. Stat. Methodol. 26 261–266.
  • Seber, G. A. F. (1966). The Linear Hypothesis. Griffin, London.
  • Seber, G. A. F. (1970). The effects of trap response on tag-recapture estimates. Biometrics 26 13–22.
  • Seber, G. A. F. (1973). The Estimation of Animal Abundance. Griffin, London.
  • Seber, G. A. F. (1974). Elementary Statistics. Jacaranda Wiley, Sydney.
  • Seber, G. A. F. (1982). The Estimation of Animal Abundance and Related Parameters, 2nd ed. Macmillan, Inc., New York.
  • Seber, G. A. F. (2013a). Counseling Issues: A Handbook for Counselors and Psychotherapists. Xlibris, Bloomington, IN.
  • Seber, G. A. F. (2013b). Statistical Models for Proportions and Probabilities. Springer Briefs in Statistics. Springer, Heidelberg.
  • Seber, G. A. F. (2015). The Linear Model Hypothesis. A General Unifying Theory. Springer Series in Statistics. Springer, Cham.
  • Seber, G. A. F. and Salehi, M. M. (2013). Adaptive Sampling Designs. Inference for Sparse and Clustered Populations. Springer Briefs in Statistics. Springer, Heidelberg.
  • Seber, G. A. F. and Wild, C. J. (1989). Nonlinear Regression. Wiley Series in Probability and Mathematical Statistics: Probability and Mathematical Statistics. Wiley, New York.