Matrix Models Workshop

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Matrix Models Workshop

Postby cooch » Fri Nov 08, 2013 7:16 pm


Workshop, 24-27 March 2014, Montpellier, France -

Instructors: J.-D. Lebreton, O. Gimenez and D. Koons

Studies of population dynamics aim to understand variation in the abundance and structure of populations. This field forms a major component of both fundamental population biology, e.g. the evolution of demographic strategies, and applied population biology, e.g. understanding and predicting the impact of global change on populations. The focus of population dynamics is on process rather than pattern. Individual performance, which is a function of variables such as age and experience, translates to population processes such as birth, death and dispersal. Demographic models map these processes, and their variation, through time and space, often with counter-intuitive results that can help guide conservation and management strategies.

This workshop will review the construction and analysis of matrix population models. Matrix models describe population processes on a discrete time scale and for discrete classes of individuals, e.g. age classes, sites, or developmental stages. We will discuss deterministic models and their generalization to include environmental stochasticity, demographic stochasticity, uncertainty, density-dependence, and spatial structure. We will also explore the practical application of matrix models using parameter estimates obtained from field data. We will emphasize a bottom-up approach that views models as tools to answer questions and modeling as an “art of simplification”. The focus will be on the use of models to explore the conservation and management of both plant and animal populations.

The format of the workshop will be a combination of lectures (with ample examples), hands-on exercises, and analysis of participant’s data. Computer lab exercises will use program ULM, a free, user-friendly program for building and analyzing matrix models, and R, a free open-source coding language that provides the user with near limitless flexibility, and at the same time, the ability to use more constrained but easy to use ‘packages’ in the R environment. For additional details on workshop content see

Participants are encouraged to bring their own data to explore during the workshop. Participants should also have a general interest in quantitative methods and will gain the most if familiar with basic population dynamics, calculus, and algebra. The workshop is intended to be both an introduction to matrix population models and a gateway to advanced applications.
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