Guest Seminar (5/11): William R. Burch

On Thursday, May 11, at 10:30 a.m. in the Forest Club Room, we’re very pleased to host a visiting talk with Professor Emeritus Bill Burch from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Sciences: “Taking charge: A human ecosystem approach for joining rural and urban communities in sustaining their legacies and future hopes.”

Bill is renowned forest sociologist whose work with urban and community forestry has spanned the country and world, from the Baltimore Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) network to projects in Asia, Europe and South America. In addition to teaching and advising at Yale, he has served as the first director of the Yale Tropical Resources Institute and the Yale Urban Resources Initiative, and as PI for a five-year restoration monitoring and evaluation effort for five stream valley park systems in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Parks. More broadly, Bill was an early pioneer in theoretical efforts to integrate ecology and community—using parks and forests to revitalize communities and ecosystems, and developing a unified ecosystem management approach that fully includes humans as part of the ecosystem. He has also been a leader in researching recreation behavior and ecotourism in wild, preserved and urban places.

This seminar is free and open to the public, and it kicks off the Spring 2017 Governor’s ONRC Advisory Board meeting on campus. The board is wrestling with how to deal with the rural-urban divide in concepts of sustainability and has sought out Burch’s insights to jump-start this initiative. There will be an extended discussion period after the talk.

We hope you can join us!

Guest Seminar (5/10): Paul Armsworth

On Wednesday, May 10, we are very pleased to welcome Professor Paul Armsworth from the University of Tennessee to give a visiting seminar in Anderson Hall 223 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.: “The ecological benefits and economic costs of protected areas.”

Paul is a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where he is also affiliated with the National Science Foundation’s National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis. A modeler by training, Paul has worked on numerous topics in conservation science. He has a particular emphasis on how ecology and economics can be combined to make more effective conservation decisions.

About the Talk
Protected areas provide a cornerstone in efforts to conserve biodiversity in the face of ongoing habitat loss and degradation. Existing protected area networks need to be greatly expanded if we are to meet species and habitat conservation goals. However, available funding to support the establishment of protected areas is limited, and it is imperative that what funds are available are targeted in ways that provide the greatest conservation gain per dollar invested. To do so, conservation organizations need to consider both the economic costs and ecological benefits of protecting land. Using as a case study areas protected in the United States by The Nature Conservancy, Paul examines how considering costs and benefits of protected areas together changes recommendations regarding what locations should be priorities for protection, and how protected areas should be designed. He also shows how recommendations one would arrive at regarding protected area design depend on the “quality” of cost and benefit data used, and the particular choice of conservation target. Finally, he outlines ways that the science behind conservation planning can become more relevant to the practice of land protection moving forward.

Paul’s talk is open to the public and no RSVP is required. We hope you can join us!

Guest Seminar (4/27): Brett McClintock

Next Thursday, April 27, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in Anderson 223, you are invited to join a special guest seminar with Dr. Brett McClintock from the NOAA National Marine Mammal Laboratory: “Hidden Markov models of animal movement: integrating more ecological realism and common challenges associated with telemetry data.”

Brett McClintockBrett is a research statistician (biology) at the NOAA National Marine Mammal Laboratory in Seattle. He earned a Ph.D. in wildlife biology and an M.S. in statistics at Colorado State University. His research focuses on the development and application of statistical models for ecological data, with a primary focus on marine mammals. He is the creator and maintainer of the animal movement R package ‘momentuHMM’ and the capture-recapture R package ‘multimark’. He also recently co-authored the book, Animal Movement: Statistical Models for Telemetry Data (CRC Press).

About the Talk
Discrete-time hidden Markov models (HMMs) have become an immensely popular tool for inferring latent animal behaviors from telemetry data, largely because they are relatively fast and easy to implement when data streams are observed without error and at regular time intervals. While HMMs of animal movement typically rely solely on location data, auxiliary biotelemetry and environmental data are powerful and readily available resources for incorporating much more behavioral realism and inferring ecological relationships that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to infer from location data alone. However, there is a paucity of generalized user-friendly software available for implementing (multivariate) HMMs of animal movement. Furthermore, measurement error and temporally irregular or missing data are often pervasive in telemetry studies (particularly in marine systems), and the incorporation of uncertainty attributable to location measurement error, temporally irregular observations, or other forms of missing data typically requires fitting HMMs using custom and computationally demanding model-fitting techniques. This is unfortunate because complex analyses requiring novel statistical methods, and custom model-fitting algorithms are not practical for many of the biologists and ecologists who collect telemetry data. Using several real-world examples, including African elephant and marine mammal telemetry data, Brett will demonstrate how a recently developed R package (momentuHMM) addresses these challenges and facilitates hypothesis-driven analyses of animal movement by non-statisticians.

Brett’s talk is free and open to the public, and we hope you can join us!

We hope you can join us!

Photo © Brett McClintock.