Distance Live online workshop

Mary Woodcock Kroble
Sunday 8 March 2020
Start date: 21 September 2020 - End date: 2 October 2020
Time: 9:00 am - 11:00 am

Registration for this workshop is now closed.

  • Considering the use of distance sampling for population assessment?
  • Wish to have individual attention learning to analyse distance sampling data sets?
  • Difficult to schedule and finance such training in Scotland?
  • Consider taking the live online version of distance sampling training.


Training in distance sampling design and analysis has been conducted in St Andrews for the past 25 years. In addition, training materials and video lectures were placed online in 2018 and have been used by >7500 users in the past 2 years.

We now offer these lectures, discussions and exercises in a new, interactive format, enabling participants to engage in lectures, conduct guided analyses of data sets and ask questions of the instructor.


The workshop instructor is Eric Rexstad


In September 2020, we will offer this workshop twice: 07-18 September and 21 September – 02 October.  The difference between the offerings will be the time of day they take place.  Meeting times for the 07-18 Sept workshop will be 1700-1900 British Summer Time.  This time of day is suited to Europe, Africa, North and South America.  Meeting times for the 21 September – 02 October workshop will be 0900-1100 British Summer Time.  This time of day is conducive to participants in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, India and the Philippines.

Enrollment limit:

The number of participants is limited to 15 to facilitate time for questions and individual assistance with the exercises.  When one of the workshops fills, meaning participants have paid their registration fees, registration for that session will close.

Please note, the previous five offerings of this introductory workshop filled rapidly (within a couple of weeks).  We suggest registering at your earliest opportunity; your registration is not complete until you have paid your registration fee.

Format and Delivery method:

The training workshop will be delivered via the internet using Zoom software that enables participants to use their web camera to interact with the instructor during lectures and exercises.

The workshop will be delivered in 10 two-hour sessions. Each session will consist of an interactive lecture, a computing exercise analysing distance sampling data sets and a concluding question and answer session discussing principles and technical details of the session. Sessions will take place weekdays over a two week period.

When participants have paid their registration fee, further details will be provided regarding:

  • scheduling a test Zoom session with the instructor to ensure the internet connection can support video conferencing
  • access to the RStudio cloud site for the training workshop
  •  location of the online lecture materials


In the first instance, the workshop will be based upon analyses using the Distance package in R. All participants will make use of the cloud version of R-Studio. Participants will not need to install R software onto their computers. Instead R, the R-Studio programming environment, necessary packages and data sets will all be available when you access the RStudio Cloud site created for the workshop.

Concepts described

Distance sampling concepts to be discussed include:

  • line transects
  • point transects
  • survey design
  • detection function models
    • model selection
  • estimation of uncertainty
    • identifying sources of uncertainty in estimates
  • geographic stratification for variance reduction
  • indirect surveys
    • dung or nest surveys and use of multipliers


You should have some familiarity with the R programming language; however code will be provided for running the 9 exercises in the workshop.

Registration and Payment:

The Registration Fee is 215.00 GBP


“I really like your teaching style. The pace is steady enough for ample note taking, but quick enough to keep my attention span. The humour gets me chuckling alone at my desk. The concepts are so easy to understand and relate to. Some of these concepts I’ve been aware of for a long time in a kind of ‘working knowledge’ way, but hearing you describe the theory behind them is giving me a lot of ‘oh yeah!’ moments. It is a real pleasure and is giving me a lot to think about for my own teaching.”  — Dr Sarah Marley, University of Portsmouth


“I would like to say I really liked RStudio Cloud and it is working just fine and I am really enjoying using it as a student. I’m looking forward to using it as an instructor too. I didn’t get the chance to give you a feedback about the first half of the course, so I will do it now. I really liked the first half of the course. I love distance sampling and I am enjoying every second of the course! The only thing I can say about this particular workshop is it deserves more time..” — Kaan Özgencil, PhD student, Department of Biological Sciences, Middle East Technical University, Ankara


“I’m really enjoying the course! It has really helped with my understanding of some of the basic concepts. My R education has been very sporadic and with very little guidance, so this has been really good for me. So glad it was offered!” —  Rebecca, United States


For information about workshops please contact Eric Rexstad, email: [email protected]

Terms and Conditions:

Information about the University of St Andrews Online Payment Services is available here.