Introduction to Ecological Forecasting

Tuesday, 17 May 2022
UWA Institute of Advanced Studies
Honours Students, Postgraduate Students, Early Career Researchers, Academics, Professional Researchers


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Introduction to Ecological Forecasting

An Institute of Advanced Studies Masterclass with Cayelan Carey, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, Virginia Tech and Dr R. Quinn Thomas, Associate Professor and Data Science Faculty Fellow, Virginia Tech.

Ecological forecasting is a tool that can be used for understanding and predicting changes in populations, communities, and ecosystems. Ecological forecasting is an emerging approach which provides an estimate of the future state of an ecological system with uncertainty, allowing society to prepare for changes in important ecosystem services. Ecological forecasters develop and update forecasts using the iterative forecasting cycle, in which they make a hypothesis of how an ecological system works; embed their hypothesis in a model; and use the model to make a forecast of future conditions. When observations become available, they can assess the accuracy of their forecast, which indicates if their hypothesis is supported or needs to be updated before the next forecast is generated.

In this masterclass, participants will apply the iterative forecasting cycle to develop an ecological forecast for a United States National Ecological Observation Network (NEON) site. Participants will use NEON data to build an ecological model that predicts primary productivity. Using their calibrated model, they will learn about the different components of a forecast with uncertainty and compare productivity forecasts among NEON sites.

The overarching goal of this masterclass is for participants to learn fundamental concepts about ecological forecasting and build a forecast for a NEON site. Attendees will work with an R Shiny interface to visualize data, build a model, generate a forecast with uncertainty, and then compare the forecast with observations.

Attendees will need to bring a laptop to participate in the practical aspects of this masterclass.

About the Presenters

Dr Cayelan Carey is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Virginia Tech. The primary goal of her research program is to advance our understanding and management of freshwater ecosystems, thereby improving drinking water quality. She is passionate about freshwater resource education and management and leads Project EDDIE (Environmental Data-Driven Inquiry and Education) and Macrosystems EDDIE, two international education programs that train undergraduate students quantitative skills, ecosystem modelling, and freshwater ecology.

Dr Carey is a UWA Gledden Visiting Fellow.

Dr R. Quinn Thomas is an Associate Professor and Data Science Faculty Fellow at Virginia Tech, where he is lead of the Ecological Forecasting Initiative Research Coordination Network. Dr Thomas’ research focuses on the interactions among ecosystem dynamics, climate change, and air pollution, with a particular emphasis on carbon cycling in forests.

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