CONS 625: Statistics for Ecology and Conservation Biology

This course provides an overview of quantitative methods for ecological research and conservation. During the two-week intensive residential session, students review statistical methods needed for ecological research and conservation science. Through lectures, discussions, and extensive hands-on computer lab exercises you will focus on increasing your knowledge of statistical methods like generalized linear models and generalized linear mixed models, the assumptions underlying those methods, and how to interpret and explain their results. Throughout the course, students will use R, a free software environment for statistical computing and graphics.

Students learn how to choose appropriate analyses for different research questions, and about the assumptions underlying each model. Through the lectures and hands-on exercises students learn how to design their own studies, explore their data, perform a range of analyses, understand fitted models, and clearly explain their results. By the end of the course, students will be able to conduct sophisticated statistical analyses, critically evaluate statistics-based material in current research literature, and deal with the limitations of real datasets in the context of conservation science.

Students should have previously completed basic statistics coursework or have previous experience with statistics.


2018 Dates Not Yet Announced


Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia

Application Procedure

Statistics for Ecology and Conservation Biology is offered through the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation as a graduate course for 3 graduate credits. Applications should be submitted using our Online Application Page.  Before beginning our online application, please have .pdf or .doc versions of your updated CV, a Personal Statement of Interest and Qualifications (maximum 350 words), and a letter of approval from your graduate advisor. You’ll be asked to attach these with your application. You will also need to complete the Statistics prerequisites survey, embedded in the online application.

For first consideration, apply before December 19, 2016

Course Costs

The total cost for this course is $3,221 for Virginia residents and $3279.50 for out-of-state applicants. This cost includes our Housing and Dining Package ($825.50) and covers:

  • Tuition for 3 credits through George Mason University
  • Registration fees
  • Instruction, course manual, and other course materials
  • Airport pick-up and drop-off shuttle service at Dulles International Airport (IAD), the only Washington, DC-region airport for which SMSC provides ground transportation shuttle service. Shuttle pick-up date at Dulles (IAD) will be Sunday, February 26, and time will be 4:30pm (16:30). Individuals whose flight options are limited should plan to arrive the night before (Feb 26) and book into overnight accommodation in the Dulles-Washington, DC vicinity, so they can meet this Sunday afternoon shuttle.
  • Transportation for course activities.
  • Daily full-service buffet at the SMSC Dining Commons, starting with dinner on the Sunday before the course, ending with brunch on the Saturday after the course ends.
  • Housing at the SMSC Residential Facility, including a shared room with bathroom (single rooms available at extra cost). Lodging provided includes the night of Sunday before the course begins, and the night of the last Friday of the course.


With course coordinator’s written approval in advance of registration/payment, local participants may elect to waive the housing and dining package, and commute to this course. Meals in the Dining Commons can then be purchased individually as needed.

For more information