Workshop 2: Advanced Techniques and Recent Developments in Distance Sampling

Mary Woodcock Kroble
Thursday 8 January 2015
Start date: 17 August 2015 - End date: 20 August 2015
Time: 8:30 am - 5:00 pm

This workshop will bring participants up to date with the latest developments in distance sampling methods and software. It is also an opportunity for those actively engaged in the design, analysis and execution of distance sampling surveys to discuss common issues and problems, and set future research directions.


The advanced distance sampling workshop will include advanced treatment of: incorporating covariates in detection function modelling, analyses in which detectability on the transect line is not assumed to be perfect (the so-called g(0) problem) and density surface modelling (also known as spatial modelling). We also devote a day to data analysis using a number of R packages we have developed including:

  • basic line transect analysis
  • advanced topics dealing with intermittent animal availability
  • density gradients in the vicinity of the transect and
  • simulation of different sampling designs and violation of modelling assumptions to examine relative performance of distance sampling estimators under varying conditions

The workshop will be a combination of lectures and computer sessions, with considerable time for discussion.

The workshop will begin Monday 17th, with registration at CREEM from 08:30 and will finish 1700 on Thursday, 20th August.

Special note: From 0900-1030 on Monday 17 August, the workshop will present a brief introduction/refresher on the use of R; specifically in the context of performing analysis of distance sampling data in R. Exercise for the remainder of the workshop will be presented both in R and Distance software with a graphical interface. Participants are free to perform the exercises with either type of software. The Monday morning presentation is intended to make the use of R easier for participants. If you are either a) already conversant in R or b) have no intention of using R for your distance sampling analyses career; feel free to join us at ~1100 when we have completed our R refresher. We also intend to make available some learning materials relevant to using R several weeks prior to the workshop; watch this webpage for details in July.

Intended participants

The workshop is intended for scientists who already have experience with distance sampling methods. We anticipate a mix of biologists and applied statisticians. To gain maximum benefit from the workshop, biologists and ecologists should have some quantitative training, including basic statistical methods, survey design and “conventional” distance sampling theory.

We will assume that participants are familiar with PCs running Microsoft Windows. Participants are welcome bring their own portable computers (see Information for registrants for minimum requirements). Familiarity with the software Distance would be an advantage, but is not essential.

We stress that this course is not intended for those starting out with distance sampling; in this case we recommend attending the four day introductory workshop held the prior week. There is little overlap in content between workshops and we anticipate many participants will wish to take both. If you are in any doubt which of the workshops is more suitable for you, we urge you to contact the workshop instructors to discuss your requirements.

 Materials provided

The following publications and software will be provided to participants at no additional cost.

  • Advanced Distance Sampling. S.T. Buckland, D.R. Anderson, K.P. Burnham, J.L. Laake, D.L. Borchers and L. Thomas. (Editors) Oxford University Press, 2004.
  • Lecture notes containing all of the overheads and slides shown during the workshop. This material supplements and extends the distance sampling text book.
  • Distance and R software.

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