Field Guide to Predictive Methods in ecology

Welcome to the field guide to predictive methods in ecology

This field guide is being developed by the Computational Ecology group of the British Ecological Society. It is currently in the very early stages of development and so doesn’t look very pretty. We developed the field guide as a one-stop shop for people simply aiming to get a high level overview of what different predictive methods are, what they mean, and examples of good and bad practice in their implementation. More specifically we had these people in mind

  • Users of the outputs of predictive methods without knowledge or understanding of how the different methods work, how appropriate they are in different situations, and what constitutes good or bad implementation of the method
  • Early career ecologists not formally trained in, or with limited knowledge of, particular methods covered by the field guide
  • People just wanting to know facts about different predictive methods used in ecology

Currently we have just a few methods detailed in the Field Guide and these are still under development

We thought that the guides should be structured in the form of fact sheets containing

• Name
• Synonyms
• Key references
• Key examples
• Description
• Principal ecological applications (scope)
• Example
• Similar methods
• Requisite skills
• Strengths (benefits)
• Limitations (issues)
• Software resources
• Validation
• Other uses

However, this was decided in our first Field Guide meeting and if you have any recommendations for improvements to that structure then please let us know ( In addition to the identified structure we identified a range of other methods and issues that will be covered in the Field Guide in due course. These are summarised below but, again, if you have requests or recommendations to make then please let us know.

At the first Field Guide meeting we identified a range of other methods that we would like to cover, including:

• Dose-response models
• Difference equation models
• Statistical models
• Matrix models
• Metapopulation models
• Scalar models
• Process-oriented models
• Stock and flow models
• Energy balance models
• TKTD models
• Compartmental analysis
• Stochastic models
• Bayesian belief networks
• Maximum entropy models
• Book keeping models
• Cohort based models
• Mechanistic models
• Empirical models
• Pattern oriented models

As well as general issues

• Statistical versus mechanistic
• Model complexity
• Data constraints
• Model evaluation and calibration
• Degrees of freedom
• Uncertainty propagation
• Assumptions
• Prediction versus projection
• Individuals versus populations versus communities
• Spatial versus temporal
• P-based versus m-based
• Lagrangian versus Eulerian

And modelled properties and processes

• Ecological network dynamics
• Species distributions
• Behaviour
• Population size
• Demographic structure
• Species composition
• Biogeochemical stocks and fluxes
• Ecosystem structure and function
• Spatial structure of ecological properties and processes

One thought on “Field Guide to Predictive Methods in ecology

  1. Pingback: REBOOT Quantitative Ecology SIG | BES Quantitative Ecology Blog

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