News articles for Centre for Statistics in Ecology appear here
In January SEEC hosted David Warton a Professor and Australian Research Council Future Fellow from the University of South Wales.
David champions the movement away from traditional methods of exploratory multivariate analyses to more predictive and testable model-based analyses in an effort to maintain the integrity of the data during analyses. To this end he has developed the mvabund R package.
While at UCT, David offered a model-based multivariate statistics course attended by 35 ecologists and statisticians from all over South Africa. This course challenged our thinking about popular multivariate methods and introduced new methodologies which will hopefully become more common in ecology. We have learned a lot and hope for many more future interactions with David and his students. Watch David’s recent Stats Department seminar HERE.
Congratulations to Jasper and his team, who won one of the 3 thematic awards at the Data for Climate Action (D4CA) challenge award ceremony at COP23!
D4CA is a competition under the UN Global Pulse programme. Teams were asked to "use big data and data science to catalyse action on climate change". There were 97 teams involved so to be among the winning ones is a great achievement.
The team's submission developed a tool for detecting vegetation changes in near real-time. You can read more about the approach here.
The submission was led by Jasper, Adam Wilson and Glenn Moncrieff, with contributions from a number of other SEEC people - Zaza, Etienne, and Vernon. Well done to everyone!
In January 2018 SEEC will be hosting David Warton who will be holding a 5-day course on modern multivariate techniques, with a special focus on the analysis of abundance or presence/absence data.
To find out more about the course and to register, click here.
Check out a new SEEC-authored paper recently published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.
As the Earth's climate changes, extreme climatic events such as heat waves and floods are becoming ever more common. However, these events are still relatively rare and infrequently observed. This often leads to the situation where researchers have data for only one extreme event, but they are convinced that this event has had a large effect on the organism or system on which they are working.
One might think that observing a single event is not amenable to analysis. However, Res Altwegg, Birgit Erni, Vernon Visser (all from SEEC) and Liam Bailey (Australian National University) show that this is not always the case and that observing one extreme event is not the same as having only one data point. In this paper they provide guidance for how, and under which conditions, one can analyse single extreme climatic events.
Jasper Slingsby, a SEEC honorary research associate and SAEON biodiversity scientist, has just published a paper on how climate change is leading to biodiversity decline in the Fynbos.
In the longest running permanent vegetation plot study in the Fynbos, Jasper and his co-authors found that an increasing frequency of consecutive dry and hot days is leading to lower plant diversity as a result of higher plant mortality in the first year after fires. They also found that there is a legacy effect of plant invasions, even after these are cleared, as plots that had previously been invaded exhibited a decline in plant diversity over time.
You can read his paper here.
Congratulations to former SEEC postdoc, Raquel Garcia, on the publication of a paper in the prestigious journal, Science, which she co-authored during her time at SEEC!
Our annual report for 2016 is now available HERE.
Read all about SEEC's excellent progress and the many activities we were involved in last year.
We are looking for committed and hardworking candidates to help with field work from MAY to SEPTEMBER 2017. Fieldwork involves LOTS OF HIKING! You will visit sample sites in the mountains of the Cape Peninsula in order to set up acoustic arrays to record calling frogs. Candidates must be able to work full days in the field.
SEEC has an MSc bursary available to work on modelling range-wide abundance patterns of moss frogs
(Arthroleptella lightfooti) using acoustic monitoring data. We are looking for a student with a background in biology
or environmental science with a strong quantitative (statistical or mathematical) angle or statistics students with a
strong interest in biology or environmental science.
Lightfoot’s moss frogs occur on the Cape Peninsula and their distribution is likely determined by climatic factors such
as availability of water. Are the same factors also affecting the density of this species where it occurs? And how is it
likely to be affected by climate change? We have developed new statistical methods for estimating frog densities from
acoustic data (see http://john.measey.com/aSCR) and aim to get density estimates of moss frogs across their range.
Congratulations to one of our students, Etienne Pienaar, on the award of his PhD entitled "Diffusion Processes and Applications". Below is an abstract of Etienne's thesis:
Diffusion models are useful tools for quantifying the dynamics of continuously evolving processes. Using diffusion models it is possible to formulate compact descriptions for the dynamics of real-world processes in terms of stochastic differential equations. Despite the flexibility of these models, they can often be extremely difficult to work with. This is especially true for non-linear and/or time-inhomogeneous diffusion models where even basic statistical properties of the process can be elusive. As such, we explore various techniques for analysing non-linear diffusion models in contexts ranging from conducting inference under discrete observation and solving first passage time problems, to the analysis of jump diffusion processes and highly non-linear diffusion processes. We apply the methodology to a number of real-world ecological and financial problems of interest and demonstrate how non-linear diffusion models can be used to better understand such phenomena. In conjunction with the methodology, we develop a series of software packages that can be used to accurately and efficiently analyse various classes of non-linear diffusion models.
Congratulations to SEEC researcher Greg Distiller who has just had his PhD thesis passed by his examiners! Greg's thesis is entitled “A Continuous-Time Formulation for Spatial Capture-Recapture models”. The thesis develops a continuous-time framework for spatial capture-recapture surveys, allowing stronger inferences about individual density, distribution and behaviour to be drawn, as well as providing a new density estimator for surveys with single-catch traps.
Oceana study finds fish catches in EU waters could increase by 57% if stocks were managed sustainably
SEEC researcher Henning Winker helped develop the Oceana report that suggests that if exploitation followed scientific advice, sustainable catches in EU waters could reach more than 3-fold increases in stocks like sardine in the Cantabrian Sea or cod and haddock in the North Sea.