RSS meeting on eDNA: Challenges and Opportunities now virtual

The meeting, initially planned for May 2020, will now take place virtually on the 16th of October.

The timetable for the day is

9.30-10  Kerry Walsh, Environment Agency: “Challenges and opportunities: A regulator’s perspective.”

10-10.15 discussion/change over

10.15-10.45  Naomi Ewald, FreshWater Habitats Trust: “Analysis of eDNA data to inform conservation priorities: case studies of long term species monitoring and short term before-after surveys.”

10.45-11 discussion/change over

11-11.30 morning break

11.30-12 Francesco Ficetola, University of Milan:  “Environmental DNA to track long-term changes of mountain ecosystem.”

12-12.15 discussion/change over

12.15-12.45 lunch break

12.45-13.15 Jim Griffin, University College London: “Modelling environmental DNA data; Bayesian variable selection accounting for false positive and false negative errors.”

13.15-13.30 discussion/change over

13.30-14 Doug Yu, University of East Anglia: “Managing wildlife with eDNA data: salmon, leeches, insects, and forests.”

14-14.30 discussion/close


Participants can register on the RSS website.


“eDNA: Challenges and Opportunities”; RSS meeting on the 7th of May 2020

Environmental DNA (eDNA) is an increasingly popular survey tool for monitoring species distribution. eDNA surveys have been used with a wide variety of species in different landscapes and there is growing evidence that they suffer from lower observation error than existing methods relying on direct observation of the target species.

From detecting single species using quantitative polymerase chain reaction  (qPCR), to studying whole communities using metabarcoding, eDNA is showing great promise in helping us understand species distributions and community compositions.

However, we are yet to fully understand the properties of eDNA, and hence are only beginning to appreciate the opportunities that eDNA surveys bring or the challenges that we need to overcome in the field, in the lab or in implementing eDNA surveys into policy.

This meeting brings together researchers who are leading in the development of new statistical methods for analysing eDNA data, in evaluating the use of eDNA surveys with different species and landscapes, or in embedding eDNA techniques into national or international policy.

Speakers and talks

  • 10.15-11  Kerry Walsh, Environment Agency: “Challenges and opportunities: A regulator’s perspective.”
  • 11-11.30 break and refreshments
  • 11.30-12.15  Naomi Ewald, FreshWater Habitats Trust: “Analysis of eDNA data to inform conservation priorities: case studies of long term species monitoring and short term before-after surveys.”
  • 12.15-13 Francesco Ficetola, University of Milan:  “Environmental DNA to track long-term changes of mountain ecosystem.”
  • 13-14 lunch
  • 14-14.45 Jim Griffin, University College London: “Modelling environmental DNA data; Bayesian variable selection accounting for false positive and false negative errors.”
  • 14.45-15.30
  • Doug Yu, University of East Anglia: “Managing wildlife with eDNA data: salmon, leeches, insects, and forests.”
  • 15.30-16.00 Discussion

The meeting, organised by the Environmental Statistics Section and the Emerging Applications Section of the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) will take place on the 7th of May 2020 at the RSS headquarters (12 Errol St, London EC1Y 8LX).

Follow this link to register for the event.

If you have any questions email


Workshop on sampling, analysing and interpreting eDNA data

The workshop will take place on the 19th of September and is FREE but places are limited, and registration will close when all places are filled, or on 6 September (whichever is the earlier). Please sign up here providing your name and email.

Workshop facilitators:
AB: Dr Andrew Buxton (ARC/Newt Conservation Partnership; DICE, University of Kent)
RG: Professor Richard Griffiths (DICE, University of Kent)
EM: Dr Eleni Matechou (School of Mathematics, Statistics and Actuarial Science, University of Kent)
AD: Alex Diana (School of Mathematics, Statistics and Actuarial Science, University of Kent)

Dr Eleni Matechou –


Ming participated in postgraduate research festival

Ming presented a poster titled “Optimal Design for Removal Sampling” at the postgraduate research festival that took place at the University of Kent.

She presented her work in which she investigates removal models accounting for temporary emigration analytically and examines how to optimally allocate a fixed level of total sampling effort in terms of maximising the Fisher information.


SE@K students run masterclasses for SMSAS

Three SE@K students (Ming, Marina and Alex) took part in masterclasses organised by the SMSAS outreach officer, Joe Watkins. For details about master classes and other outreach events at SMSAS see here

The classes took place on two days and involved four sessions: i) Introduction to probability and statistics ii) Removal modelling, iii) Occupancy modelling and iv) Capture-recapture modelling. They were attended by some of the most enthusiastic and engaged year 9 students in the local area.

All sessions were interactive and the participating year 9 students had the opportunity to replicate real-life sampling techniques for monitoring populations of lizards, penguins and birds. These involved digging for lizards in the sand, looking for hidden penguins and marking birds. No animals were hurt in the process as they were all made out of plastic!


NCSE Summer 2017 meeting at the University of Kent

The Statistical Ecology @ Kent (SE@K) group will host the next NCSE summer meeting, which is returning to the University of Kent after 10 years and will take place in the w/c 26th of June 2017.

Click for  Programme and  Abstracts.

The meeting will include an invited talk by Professor Robert P Freckleton, University of Sheffield, and a one-day workshop by Professor David Borchers, University of St Andrews, and Professor Finn Lindgren, University of Edinburgh, on “Spatial Point Process Modelling with INLAbru”.

Meeting Location:

Registration will take place in the foyer of the Grimond building on the University of Kent campus, at 2pm on Monday, 26th June. The talks and workshop will take place in Grimond Lecture Theatre 2 (GLT2). The location indicated can be found on the University map at

Drinks Reception:

There will be a drinks reception on Monday at 5.20pm in Grimond Foyer.

Meeting dinner:

The meeting dinner will take place on Tuesday at 7pm.  It will be free for NCSE members, excluding drinks and take place in a private room in Café du Soleil in Canterbury; see


On Thursday there will be a workshop  on Spatial Point Process Modelling with INLAbru by David Borchers and Finn Lindgren. Participants in the workshop will need to bring their own laptop and install the packages listed in: workshop preparation

Travel to Canterbury:

A campus map and travel instructions can be found at


There are various possibilities, including Air B&B. The University campus is on a hill outside Canterbury. There are buses regularly connecting the campus to the city, and the walk takes less than 30 minutes each way. General information is to be found at:

– We should be able to make a block booking in student accommodation on campus; this is probably going to be an economic option. In order to do this we will need to know how many people would be interested. If you are interested then let us know by the 7 April deadline.

– A B&B at the entrance to the campus is the City of Canterbury:


Tuesday afternoon will be free for an outing.

The first railway in the world to issue season tickets ran from Canterbury to Whitstable, opening in 1830. We propose a walk along the line of this historic railway (the Crab and Winkle line) for those who may be interested. From the campus the 6-mile walk to Whitstable passes through  woods and  countryside. At Whitstable it would be possible to take refreshment at local pubs around the harbour, and possibly sample Whitstable oysters. If walking back is unattractive then there are regular buses.

The walk will leave Grimond Foyer at 12.30 and go via the campus shop to buy yourself a packed lunch.

There is no shortage of alternative activities for individuals. Canterbury contains a UNESCO World Heritage site, comprising the Cathedral, St Augustine’s Abbey and St. Martin’s church.  See In addition there are possibilities of visiting Faversham, home to Shepherd Neame brewery, Britain’s oldest brewer, and Dover and Leeds castles.

Bird watching is possible at various local sites, including at Stodmarsh Natural Nature Reserve, which we visited when the last NCSE summer meeting was held in Canterbury. This is home to Bearded reedlings, Marsh harriers, Cetti’s warblers, Bitten and many more. The reserve is 20 minutes drive from the campus. Blean woods is walking distance from the campus, and is one of just a few sites in the UK where there is a chance of seeing the rare Heath Fritillary butterfly, weather permitting.




NERC-funded advanced short course run by SE@K

The course took place 9-13 January 2017 at the University of Kent and was run by SE@K’s Diana, Eleni, and Rachel and DICE’s Richard Griffiths with the help of SE@K PhD students  Alex, Anita, Marina and Ming.

30 participants travelled from all around the UK for the course which involved lectures, R practicals, talks by Humphrey Crick from Natural England and Rufus Howard from IEMA, round table discussions on ecological challenges and the role of statistical modelling in dealing with some of these challenges and 1-1 sessions with the course organisers for all participants who wanted to discuss their studies and data.

On Tuesday Richard kicked off the day by discussing the types of population data that we need in conservation practice. Humphrey  then went on to discuss problems in modern conservation and the role of statistical modelling. Finally Rufus Howard talked about Big Data (Gaps) in EIA. A round table discussion then  focused on obstacles to incorporating statistical models and priorities of ecologists.

The rest of the week focused on statistical methods used in statistical ecology including abundance estimation, capture-recapture, occupancy modeling, distance sampling, citizen science data, modelling movement, species interaction models, spatial models and integrated modelling.

The course was successful at introducing complex statistical ideas, exposing participants to a wide range of statistical techniques and discussing state-of-the-art statistical methods. Below is a list of comments received about the course:

“Attending the course has enabled me to see how my data can be utilised in a better way..”


“Great materials and trainers”


“There were difficult concepts but it was very well presented and very accessible”


“Training was fantastic throughout”


“Good course and definitely beneficial”


“Great comprehensive course addressing many scenarios and how to deal with different datasets”


“I really appreciated the level of explanation given by all of the speakers”


“Incredibly well presented”


“Really great overview of the topics and great practical session”


“1-1 meetings were a great idea”


“I thought all lecturers were really very good and explained things very clearly and simply with good repetition”.