The integrated nested Laplace approximation applied to spatial log-Gaussian Cox process models

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Informa UK Limited


Spatial point process models are theoretically useful for mapping discrete events, such as plant or animal presence, across space; however, the computational complexity of fitting these models is often a barrier to their practical use. The log-Gaussian Cox process (LGCP) is a point process driven by a latent Gaussian field, and recent advances have made it possible to fit Bayesian LGCP models using approximate methods that facilitate rapid computation. These advances include the integrated nested Laplace approximation (INLA) with a stochastic partial differential equations (SPDE) approach to sparsely approximate the Gaussian field and an extension using pseudodata with a Poisson response. To help link the theoretical results to statistical practice, we provide an overview of INLA for point process data and then illustrate their implementation using freely available data. The analyzed datasets include both a completely observed spatial field and an incomplete data situation. Our well-commented R code is shared in the online supplement. Our intent is to make these methods accessible to the practitioner of spatial statistics without requiring deep knowledge of point process theory.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Applied Statistics on 2023-04-04, available online:


Bayesian hierarchical model, INLA, spatial prediction, log-Gaussian Cox process, spatial point process


Flagg, K., & Hoegh, A. (2022). The integrated nested Laplace approximation applied to spatial log-Gaussian Cox process models. Journal of Applied Statistics, 1-24.
Copyright (c) 2002-2022, LYRASIS. All rights reserved.