Events Summary 2014

Computational Ecology SIG events 2014
Hello again members. We’ve been busy organising events for this year and they’ve become solid enough now to let you know about them and invite you along to them. One of the new things for this year is that we’re trying to have a consistent thread running through them of enabling people to use existing computational methods better.

12th March 2014 : First “Field Guide to predictive methods in ecology” workshop.
Microsoft Research Cambridge, CB1 2FB (5 mins from the station).

We’re inviting people to this workshop who know about different quantitative methods used to make on the ground predictions about the properties and dynamics of real ecological systems. Our aim is to have a thorough writing day in which we attempt to write friendly breakdowns of different methods in a form accessible to those considering the outputs of predictive methods in applied problems. E.g. if you’re considering the outputs of some modelling exercise in a real world application (e.g. predicting whether and where a disease will spread) then what things should you look for in the way a particular method was applied to give you an idea of the reliability of the predictions. Or if you’re considering implementing some predictive methods, then how do you choose which methods to use? At the end of this day we will have identified a structure to the field guide and have written some example methods guides to use as templates for writing the complete guide – which will be in the form of an online resource (website).

If you want to attend this meeting then please email (Matthew Smith at Microsoft Research receives these emails) with a brief mention of how you’d like to contribute. It is intended that lunch will be provided

Computational landscape management for conservation applications
A 1 day workshop at Charles Darwin House, London, 20th May

Organised by the Conservation Ecology and Computational Ecology groups of the British Ecological Society.
Local, national and international authorities are increasingly having to consider the ecological importance of areas of land or water when planning how to manage landscapes to conserve species, ecosystems and the services they provide. At local scales, planners don’t only need to consider the intrinsically valuable features of an individual site, but also the importance sites play in ecosystem dynamics at larger scales. As a result, planners increasingly need to consider habitat connectivity and ecological networks at larger spatial scales. Such information is rarely available from raw data but is usually delivered through computational analyses aided by the incorporation of ecological models or ecological principles. In this 1 day workshop we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of current computational approaches to these challenges.
The workshop formulation is yet to be finalised, but there is a clear need to present both what problems and issues are being addressed in practice, alongside the development of quantitative solutions with their methods and applications. This should help present available methodologies, applications, the questions that require answers, and the ability to help support application or methodological decision making.

There will likely be three main areas for the workshop:

Snapshot Talks
We will bias the day towards hosting small group discussions rather than series of long talks. Most likely we will begin with brief presentations of the problems being addressed by landscape managers and conservation practitioners in the UK and how they use computational approaches to estimate habitat importance. We will also allow those developing quantitative solutions to conservation problems to present summarise their new methods and their applications. With the additional group discussion we should be able to clearly present the questions being asked and methods available to be employed.

Focussing on the Issues
We will divide the rest of the day up between structured discussions on specific topics and unstructured discussions over coffee/lunch. Discussions will be focussed on areas where existing methods need to be better applied in specific areas of landscape management, and where new computational methods would be need to be developed to facilitate in landscape management problems.

A Field Guide
The Computational Ecology group will be working on a “field guide” to predictive methods in ecology two months prior to this workshop. It is hoped that attendees of the field guide meeting will be able to trial their field guide out on members of the landscape management meeting to help hone the advice – this would probably consist of a 10 minute presentation and 30 mins discussion.

Building on other events and the Field Guide work, the workshop will hope to be making the first steps towards supporting practitioner decision making, identifying research and communication needs, and making sure methods are more widely distributed and understood beyond academia.
At present we are looking for expressions of interest from conservation practitioners and advisors as well as interested computational ecologists to attend and also to give short presentations on their perspective on computational solutions to landscape management. Again, please email for details

Summer 2014 June: Software carpentry bootcamp.
We are currently negotiating this event with the Macroecology SIG and the Software Sustainability Institute. It is hoped that we can have a 2 day event that will cover source control and good coding practice on the first day and command line automation and unit testing on the second day. More details to follow.

Annual General Meeting: 9 – 12 December, Grand Palais, Lille, France:
We hope to host two workshops at the annual meeting: one to report the field guide, and a second to draft a scientific paper based on the field guide and accompany it with case studies (such as those harvested from the computational landscape management meeting). More details to follow.

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