Distance Sampling Workshops, St Andrews, August 2016


The Centre for Research into Ecological and Environmental Modelling (CREEM) is hosting two linked workshops in the summer of 2016 in our purpose-built facilities at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. The aim of these workshops is to train participants in the latest methods for design and analysis of distance sampling surveys, including line and point transects. The workshops are taught by leading researchers in the field, using industry-standard software.

The first workshop (4 days) will run at an introductory level, and will focus on “conventional” distance sampling methods, as described in the standard reference book  Introduction to Distance Sampling. The workshop will be a blend of theory and practice and participants will learn how to use the program Distance. Participants will gain a solid grounding in both survey design and methods of analysis for distance sampling surveys. We will also deal with automated survey design and the use of covariates in modelling detectability. New treatment of fundamental distance sampling analysis methods is in a new (2015) book published by Springer Distance Sampling: Methods and Applications. This book (and its companion case studies) will constitute a fundamental component of the introductory workshop.


The advanced distance sampling workshop (4 days) will include advanced treatment of: analyses in which detectability on the transect line is not assumed to be perfect (the so-called g(0) problem) and spatial modelling. The spatial modelling software will include not only the graphic user interface Distance 7, but also the R package dsm. A portion of the spatial modelling session will discuss using geo-referenced covariates stored in GIS raster format. We will also use a number of bespoke R packages for simple and advanced distance sampling applications. We will introduce an R package for simulating survey designs and analysing Distance data. This will be of general interest to those designing surveys or those interested in assessing properties of distance sampling under assumption violation.

Special topics will be arranged for participants with particular interests. Those topics (and associated software) may include: analysis of surveys with groups comprised of multiple species; estimation of abundance adjusted for availability bias; analysis of marine acoustic data from certain types of passive detector arrays.

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

For both workshops, participants are encouraged to bring their own data sets, and can expect to do some preliminary analyses of their data. Computer sessions take place in our computer classroom adjacent to the seminar room. Participants can use our computers or bring their own laptop computers.


Introduction to Distance Sampling, 16th – 19th August 2016

Advanced Techniques and Recent Developments in Distance Sampling Workshop, St Andrews, 22nd – 25th August 2016

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Further Information

Location and Travel Information



Please contact:
Rhona Rodger, Workshop Administrator
Centre for Research into Ecological and Environmental Modelling
University of St Andrews
The Observatory, Buchanan Gardens
St. Andrews
Scotland KY16 9LZ
Tel:+44 (0) 1334 461842
Email: rmr5@st-andrews.ac.uk