grants, News

Eleni awarded Knowledge Transfer Partership with NatureMetrics

NatureMetrics is an innovative, science-based, women-led SME that commercialises environmental DNA-based biodiversity monitoring solutions at scale.  They are world leaders in delivering powerful, scalable biodiversity data collected safely and sustainably using environmental DNA.  NatureMetrics work to develop end-to-end and automated tools for biodiversity detection in the field, to be used by non-experts.


This KTP aims to develop and integrate new statistical techniques for addressing two challenges associated with biodiversity surveys using environmental DNA: accounting for error and noise in environmental DNA surverys, and optimising survey design. These techniques will improve the business’s decision-support tools for nature conservation and restoration, facilitating access to new markets.


NatureMetrics’ mission is to bridge the gap between molecular techniques and environmental management by using cutting-edge DNA analysis to monitor biodiversity and measure natural capital in the environment and this KTP will enable them to achieve this mission.


Specifically, the aim of this KTP is to embed new knowledge and capabilities of Bayesian hierarchical statistical models developed by academics at the University of Kent (Dr Eleni Matechou) and University College London (Professor Jim Griffin). Through this KTP, these techniques will be integrated into NatureMetrics’ analysis workflows, enabling them to increase confidence levels around the presence/absence or relative abundance of surveyed biological communities (i.e. collections of species at a site) in downstream products.  This will optimise the cost and effort needed to collect and analyse samples.


Conferences/Meetings/Workshops, News

The role of statistics in decision-making at the landscape scale

The recordings of the invited session, organised by Eleni as Chair of the Environmental Statistics Section, at the 2021 RSS conference are available on the RSS youtube channel 

Landscapes are continuously changing, either naturally of because of human intervention. It is important to understand these changes, their short- and long-term effects and the associated risks, and to make decisions on the need and way to stop or reverse changes when required. This session demonstrated how statistics are currently used to inform decision-making at the landscape scale, with pollinators, animal populations, air pollution and droughts as case studies and will highlight emerging statistical challenges within landscape decision-making, specifically around assimilating data from both numeric and non-numeric perspectives.

The session, which took place on Wednesday 8 September 2021 14.20-15.40, featured talks by Mark Brewer (BiOSS), Richard Everitt (Warwick), Emma Gardner (Reading) and Carly Stevens (Lancaster)


Conferences/Meetings/Workshops, News

Movement and migration in ecology workshop

Daniel Bearup, Eduard Campillo-Funollet, Eleni Matechou and Bruno Santos were awarded funding from the University of Kent’s Migration and Movement Research Theme to run a 2 day workshop 5/6 May 2022.

The workshop will be themed around modelling of movement and migration, with the goal of identifying opportunities for collaboration between mathematicians, statisticians, ecologists and demographers, as well as discussing novel approaches within this theme.

The event will be face to face and take place on the University of Kent campus, in Grimond Building (in Lecture Theatre 1), with some virtual talks, to encourage interaction between participants and invited speakers.

The workshop will feature three broad themes, each covering corresponding approaches for modelling migration and movement: 1) Statistical Ecology 2) Mathematical Modelling 3) Demography and Social Sciences.

There is an exciting line up of speakers (see list below) from the UK and abroad.

Registration for the event is now closed. If you would like to attend and did not get a chance to register then you are welcome to attend the talks but please note that hospitality has only been ordered for 30 attendees.


Thursday 5th – Morning

  • Frans Willekens (virtual) 9.45-10.30 45′ Emeritus professor of Demography at the University of Groningen
  • Dave Roberts 10.30-11.15 45′ Reader in Biodiversity Conservation at the University of Kent – Slides
  • Coffee break 11.15-11.45
  • Eleonora Mussino 11:45-12:30 45′ Docent at the Stockholm University Demography Unit – Slides
  • Discussion/networking 12:30-13.00
  • Lunch 13.00-14.00

Thursday 5th – Afternoon

  • Ruth King (virtual) 14.00-14.45 45′ Thomas Bayes’ Chair of Statistics at the University of Edinburgh – Slides
  • Fay Frost 14:45-15.05 20′ PDRA at the University of Kent – Slides
  • Coffee break 15.05-15.40
  • Alex Diana 15.40-16.00  20′ PDRA at the University of Kent – Slides
  • Sergei  Petrovskii 16.00-16.45 45′ Professor in Applied Mathematics at the University of Leicester – Slides
  • Wrap up/networking 16.45

Friday 6th – Morning

  • Jonathan Potts (virtual) 9.45-10.30 45′ Senior Lecturer in Mathematics at the University of Sheffield – Slides
  • Luca Borger 10.30-11.15 45′ Professor in Ecology and Biodiversity at the University of Swansea
  • Coffee break 11.15-11.45
  • Luca Giuggioli 11:45-12:30 45′ Reader in Complexity Sciences at the University of Bristol
  • Discussion/networking 12:30-13.00
  • Lunch 13.00-14.00


If you are driving to campus then you can find information on parking here.


Research by Eleni and colleagues mentioned by the Independent

As part of a series of articles on International Bee Day 2021, The Independent mentioned work by Eleni on modelling bumblebee citizen science data. In particular, the article referred to results published in 2018, which suggested that even some common species of bumblebee are now in decline.

Recent analysis, using the new and freely available RShiny app, developed by research student Fabian Ketwaroo, suggest that the number of queens emerging from hibernation each year for species  Bombus pascuorum and Bombus hortorum continue to be stable in recent years compared to 2011, when BeeWalk data were first collected.

At the same time there is some indication of positive news for species Bombus lapidarius, also known as the red tailed bumblebee, as the number of queens emerging from hibernation is on the rise in recent years, with 2019 seeing a similar number of queens to 2011. (see plot above, showing the number of queens emerging each year in comparison to 2011).