Building Interdisciplinary Solutions to Modern Ecological Challenges

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Building Interdisciplinary Solutions to Modern Ecological Challenges

 12 - 16 Jun 2023

ICMS, Bayes Centre, Edinburgh

Scientific Organisers

  • David Borchers, University of St Andrews
  • Ruth King, University of Edinburgh
  • Stuart King, University of Edinburgh
  • Rachel McCrea, Lancaster University


Ecological surveys provide data that act as the evidence-base for modern conservation. These surveys have traditionally been conducted by human observers, and the associated statistical methods developed for drawing inferences from these surveys. However, modern ecological data is often collected using a range of digital devices leading to new statistical challenges. For example, data are now commonly collected from automated devices (e.g. motion/audio-sensitive devices), via citizen science projects, drone or autonomous vehicle surveys, etc. These new data collection methods provide many statistical challenges, due to, for example, the collection of data at higher temporal resolution and over much longer periods; recorded data at different spatial and temporal resolutions (e.g. very high resolution satellite data and drone-survey data); much larger volumes of data to process; and observational data that combines signal with noise.
This workshop focused on developing new statistical solutions to address these new ecological data-driven challenges. In particular, the objectives of the workshop were:
1 To continue to build international leadership in the area of statistical ecology, and be at the cutting-edge of the development of advanced statistical techniques that utilise digital devices to gather ecological data, including automated devices, citizen science data, and the emerging area of remote sensing data.
2 To provide an engaging research environment to encourage cross-fertilisation of research ideas over various application areas and academic disciplines and stimulate statistical innovations.
3 To establish new collaborations, and strengthen existing interdisciplinary collaborations, particularly for early career researchers to enable the next generation of data scientists and statisticians to better tackle challenging data-driven questions in ecology.
Public Lecture: From Equations to Ecosystems: The Role of Mathematics in Ecology
Speaker: Koustubh Sharma, International Snow Leopard Trust


Registration & Lunch
Welcome and Housekeeping
Plenary talk: Eleni Matechou, University of Kent eDNAPlus: A unifying modelling framework for DNA-based biodiversity monitoring
Sarah Christofides, University of Cardiff Counting the unseen
Alison Johnston, University of St Andrews The power and challenge of citizen science data for biodiversity monitoring
Doug Gillespie, University of St Andrews Uncertainty in acoustic data: who’s problem is it ?
Danielle Harris, University of St Andrews Challenges of density and abundance estimation from sparsely distributed acoustic instruments
Discussion Session
Welcome Reception, hosted at ICMS
Plenary talk: Serge Wich,; Liverpool John Moores Drones, conservation, and machine learning: state-of-the-art and future directions
Matt Silk, Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive (CNRS) Social networks in the wild
David Williams, University of Leeds Combining spatial ecology, modelling, and conservation science to save the world's biodiversity
Discussion Session
Plenary talk: Oisin Mac Aodha, University of Edinburgh Learning from Visual Data in the Wild
Kaism Terzic, University of St Andrews Applications of machine learning in conservation
Juan Ye, University of St Andrews Elastic Neural Network For Continual Learning
Peter Henrys, UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology Citizen science within an integrating monitoring landscape
Rob Boyd, UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology Monitoring biodiversity with citizen science data: Assessing, mitigating and communicating the risk of bias.
Discussion Session
Public Talk, hosted in G.03 (ground floor) Koustubh Sharma, Snow Leopard Trust From Equations to Ecosystems: The Role of Mathematics in Ecology
Plenary talk: Kate Jones, University College London Emerging opportunities for AI in ecological monitoring
Jenna Lawson, UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology How can technology facilitate environmental data collection: The Biologists Wishlist
Susan Jarvis, UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology Understanding large scale status and trends in biodiversity
Discussion Session
Free afternoon
Plenary talk: Ben Stevenson, University of Auckland Data science for modern ecological surveys: a pathway towards synthesising data from multiple sensor streams for continuous monitoring and inference
Amanda Lenzi, University of Edinburgh Towards Black-box Parameter Estimation
Yuheng Wang, University of St Andrews Towards fully automatic call density estimation —— modelling false positives in acoustic spatial capture-recapture.
Discussion Session
Plenary talk: Peter Fretwell, BAS Wildlife from Space: Detecting, monitoring and studying wildlife using satellite imagery
Paula Nieto Quintano, Space Intelligence How Space Intelligence uses remote sensing to support NBS
Esther Jones, BioSS Predator-prey dynamics: analysing contemporaneous spatio-temporal data in an ecological context
Ella Browning, UCL & Bat Conservation Trust Rapid upscaling in passive acoustic monitoring of bats using citizen science: knowledge gaps and future perspectives
Clara Panchaud, University of Edinburgh Accounting for animal movement in spatial capture-recapture
Discussion Session
Workshop Dinner, 75 St. Leonard’s Street, Edinburgh EH8 7QR
Adam Butler, BioSS Ecological impacts of offshore renewables: the role of statistical research in supporting decision making
Sallie Bailey, Scottish Government
Plenary talk: Koustubh Sharma, Snow Leopard Trust Out of sight does not have to be out of mind: Using technology and mathematics to conserve snow leopards and their habitat
Concluding Remarks/Discussion Session