Post provided by Susan Jarvis and Laura Graham

Ecologists are increasingly in need of quantitative skills and the British Ecological Society Quantitative Ecology Special Interest Group (QE SIG) aims to support skills development, sharing of good practice and highlighting novel methods development within quantitative ecology. We run events throughout the year, as well as contributing to the Annual Meeting and providing a mailing list to share events, jobs and quantitative news.

Ecology Hackathon

The run up to the Ecology Across Borders joint Annual Meeting in Ghent this month is an exciting time for the SIG as we look forward to catching up with existing members as well as hopefully meeting some new recruits! Several of our SIG committee members will be in attendance and if you’ve been lucky enough to get a place at the Hackathon on the Monday you’ll meet most of us there. The Hackathon has been jointly developed by us and two of our allied groups; the GfÖ Computational Ecology Working Group and the NecoV Ecological Informatics SIG and is being sponsored by Methods in Ecology and Evolution. We’ll be challenging participants to work together to produce R packages suggested by the ecological community. You can see the list of package suggestions here. If you weren’t able to book a place at the Hackathon, but are interested in writing your own packages, you may be interested in the new Guide to Reproducible Code from the BES.

Ecology Across Borders Highlights

Attendees at our workshop on field guides for ecologists at BESSfe 2014.

The SIG have also developed a Thematic Topic session this year, in conjunction Florian Hartig from GfÖ Computational Ecology Working Group and Cédric Scherer from the GfÖ Young Modellers in Ecology Group asking “Are we any good at simulating ecology? Success and future challenges in ecological simulation models” (Thursday 9.45, Casinozaal 1). David Orme will kick off the session with “Simulations I Have Known and Loved” and we’ll then have talks from a range of speakers covering general ecosystem models, early warning signals, why everyone should have a virtual ecologist and more.

Outside of the Thematic Topic session there are a huge number of exciting quantitative talks spread across the programme. There are no less than three sessions of talks on Theoretical or Computational Ecology, which along with the Thematic Topic session should have your Wednesday and Thursday plans sorted. A few highlights include Carsten Dormann on model averaging (Thursday 14.15, Casinozaal 2), Mira Kattwinkel introducing Particle Markov Chain Monte Carlo for individual-based models (Thursday 12.45, Casinozaal 2), Florian Hartig on approaches for when you have few data and many predictors (Thursday 13.00, Casinozaal 2) and our own Nick Golding introducing greta for flexible modelling in R (Thursday 13.30, Casinozaal 2). Plus don’t forget to come along to the poster sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday! We’ll also be running a joint social event with the GfÖ Computational Ecology Working Group and the GfÖ Young Modellers in Ecology on Tuesday night if you want to come along and find out more about the SIG (with drinks and nibbles!). If you can’t make it to Ghent this year you can follow along on Twitter with #EAB2017 plus we’ll be tweeting quantitative news and events from @BES_QE_SIG.

Quantitative Ecology in 2018

Quantitative scriblings from a workshop on point processes we sponsored at ISEC 2016.

Looking forward to next year we’ve got a full roster of events planned for 2018 including our first annual SIG meeting! We’ll be holding two events around the International Statistical Ecology Conference in St Andrews. Firstly, the SIG are sponsoring a pre-conference workshop on “Combining different data types in a single model” on 29th June 2018. This will involve a series of presentations and tutorials on models for combining different types of ecological data (e.g. counts, presence/absence, camera trap records, eDNA) to answer a single question (e.g. species habitat preferences). The workshop will also include a group discussion and open practical session where you can bring your own data. After the conference we are planning to hold our first annual meeting; Quantitative Ecology 2018 on 9th July, again in St Andrews. More details to follow!

Get in Touch with the Quantitative Ecology SIG

To get involved with the SIG’s activities you can tweet us @BES_QE_SIG, email us and we also have a mailing list which you can join by sending an email to with a blank subject header and the following text, ‘Join BESQUANTITATIVE’ and your full name. If you’re interested in joining the committee or have a great idea for a future event please let us know, we’d love to hear from you!