MCCS 0517: AniMove: Animal Movement Analysis for Conservation

gazelle_collared_med

Mongolian Gazelle with a GPS/Satellite tracking collar.

Animal movement is critical for maintenance of ecosystem services and biodiversity. The study of complex movement patterns and of the factors that control such patterns is essential to inform conservation research and environmental management. Technological advances have greatly increased our ability to track, study, and manage animal movements. But analyzing and contextualizing vast amounts of tracking data can present scientific, computational, and technical challenges that require scientists and practitioners to master new skills from a wide range of computational disciplines.

Satellite tracking data from a Mongolian Gazelle.

Satellite tracking data from a Mongolian Gazelle.

AniMove (www.animove.org), a collective of international researchers with extensive experience in these topics, teaches a two-week intensive training course for studying animal movement. This two-week course focuses on interdisciplinary approaches linking animal movement with environmental factors to address challenging theoretical and applied questions in conservation biology. To achieve this, participants will acquire significant skills in computational ecology, modeling, remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

During Week 1, participants learn new skills through lectures and hands-on exercises in data collection, management, analysis and modeling approaches. During Week 2, participants work in small groups on conservation projects with datasets provided by course participants or instructors. Participants are encouraged to bring their own data and research questions to be addressed by one of the working groups. Throughout, the course only uses open source software (R, GRASS, QGIS) and relies mainly on open-access environmental datasets. Evening lectures by noted conservation scientists, movement ecologists, and remote sensing experts supplement instruction, providing the broader context of animal movement and remote sensing analysis.

Admission to this two-week course requires prior working knowledge of R, including the ability to write and troubleshoot scripts for processing and analyzing data. Participants must be familiar with common R operations such as data frame subsetting, data inspection, package/library structure and handling of error messages. We do not cover/review these skills during the course itself. More advanced techniques such as functions and loops are briefly introduced in the course. Remote sensing, open source GIS, and modeling knowledge are advantageous but not mandatory for participation.

______________________________________________________________________

Dates

April 13-24, 2015

Location

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia, USA

Application Procedure

Animove: Animal Movement Analysis for Conservation is offered through the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation as a two-week professional training course for 6 Continuing Education Units (CEUs).

As a prerequisite for admission, please first download the R script exercise found here: Animove_R_Coding. Work through the exercise, save your results as an R script, and email that as an attachment to scbitraining@si.edu with the subject line: Last Name, First Name, AniMove R Coding. Please then complete and submit the rest of the course application; we will review all your materials, including your completed R coding exercise, upon receipt of your complete course application. We may require you to complete a further pre-requisite test after the R script exercise.

Complete course applications should be submitted using our Online Application Page. Before beginning our online application, please have .pdf or .doc versions available of your updated CV (resume), a Personal Statement of Interest and Qualifications (maximum 350 words), and a letter of recommendation from someone familiar with your professional/academic work. You will be asked to attach these with your application.

We ask that each course participant bring his/her own laptop computer, with R, GRASS, and QGIS  (all free software) pre-installed, to the onsite course. This also facilitates participants’ putting newly learned skills to use quickly in their own projects post-course.  However, if a course participant does not have a laptop computer, we will work out other arrangements for computer use during the onsite course.

For first consideration, apply before March 2, 2015

Course Costs

Payment Deadline: March 16, 2015

The total cost for this two-week course is $3,478 (Course fee of $2100 + Housing and Dining Package of $1,378).  Those applying as citizens of “less-developed” nations qualify for a reduced course fee of $1200, making the total cost including housing (shared double room) and dining package $2,578. Click HERE to check if your country of citizenship qualifies you for the reduced course fee. Your total course payment includes:

  • Registration fees
  • Instruction, course materials
  • Airport pick-up and drop-off. Participants should plan to arrive to Dulles International Airport (IAD), by the evening of Sunday, April 12. Course instruction begins 9am Monday April 13, and ends 5:30 pm Friday April 24.
  • Transportation for course activities.
  • Daily full-service buffet at the SMSC Dining Commons – Dining begins with dinner on Sunday April 12 and ends with brunch on Saturday April 25.
  • Housing at the SMSC Residential Facility, including a shared room with bathroom (single rooms available at extra cost) – Lodging provided includes the nights of Sunday April 12 through Friday April 24, 2014.

Scholarships

A very limited number of scholarships are available on a competitive basis for eligible international applicants. Click HERE for more information on scholarships.

Commuters

With course coordinator’s written approval in advance of registration/payment, local participants may elect to stay off campus, 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

Email SCBItraining@si.edu.