Research

My research focusses on species distribution models (SDMs, aka ecological niche models) which model the relationship between a species and the environments in which it occurs. I’m most interested in technical aspects of the models, but also in their use for practical applications. Below are some of my current research interests (for published outputs see my publications); also see CV and Students for other professional activities.

1. Improved methods for predicting species’ distributions under environmental change – ARC Future Fellowship FT0991640; 2010-2015 @ 0.8FTE – This grant employs me and allows me to work on the (rather fraught) subject of whether SDMs can and/or should be used for climate change and invasive species applications. Major challenges include using statistical models for extrapolation and dealing with species not at equilibrium.

2. Robust prediction and decision strategies for managing extinction risks under climate change – ARC Linkage Project LP0989537; 2010-13 with Wintle, Keith, Kearney, McCarthy, Burgman, Elith, Auld, Hutchinson & Hughes – Dr Tracey Regan was employed as a postdoc on this grant in which we focussed on how to integrate dynamic species distribution models with population viability analyses to investigate the impact of climate change on species persistence. Linked to this we also ran working groups at ACEAS to facilitate our work on frogs, extinction risks and climate change. Publications are still emerging from this grant.

3. Robust strategies for restoring aquatic and riparian biodiversity – ARC Linkage Project LP110100304; 2011-2014 with Elith, Leathwick, Nicholson, Rutherfurd, Todd & Cant – Dr Yung En Chee as postdoc worked on methods for quantifying the links between riverine biodiversity and restoration actions, and for evaluating and ranking alternative restoration strategies from the viewpoint of whether they achieve biodiversity goals. She and Ann Nicholson tested one modelling approach that can integrate environmental spatial data from GIS, dispersal dynamics from a process model and estimates of temporal changes in a species life history stages from a Dynamic Bayesian Networks (DBNs). Yung is finishing work on this project but also starting new research with Chris Walsh and others at the Burnley Campus of UniMelb.

4. Workshops and consultancies – I have been / am involved in several recent working groups / projects researching topics including:

  • Signe Normand et al on understanding range dynamics of species – workshops, 2012/2013, France
  • Carsten Dormann et al. on ensembles and model averaging – working group, 2015, Germany
  • Simon Barry et al. for CEBRA, on predicting potential distributions of invasive species – consultancy, finishing June 2015.
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