Nicholas Clark – abstract & bio

BioMaths Colloquium Series – 2022/23
3 May 2023 – 3pm

Online speaker (register here for Zoom link)

Dr Nicholas Clark

(The University of Queensland)

Forecasting with Dynamic Generalized Additive Models


Nicholas Clarke, an ecologist by training – holds a B.Sc. (Hons) in Marine Ecology from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington and a Ph.D. in Ecological Modelling from Griffith University. I am broadly interested in exploring new ways to (1) understand how ecological communities are formed and (2) predict how they will change over time. As an ARC DECRA fellow at the School of Veterinary Science, University of Queensland, my research focuses on developing computational tools and adapting techniques from statistical forecasting to study how organisms and ecosystems respond to change. This work can be applied to investigate natural dynamics for a range of ecological systems.

Abstract: What will nature look like in the future? This question is difficult because ecology is complex. The abundances of species, for example, fluctuate for many reasons. Food and shelter availability limit survival. Biotic interactions affect colonization and vital rates. Severe weather events and climate variation alter habitat suitability. Current changes in abundance can have carry-on effects on future abundance, irrespective of local conditions. These sources of variation make it difficult to understand, let alone predict, ecosystem change. Dynamic Generalized Additive Models (DGAMs) offer one solution to meet this complexity. In this talk I will introduce DGAMs and illustrate their advantages by analysing time series of long-term trapping data for multiple rodent species. I hope to show how models that describe biological complexity, both through nonlinear covariate functions and multi-species dependence, are useful to ask targeted questions about drivers of change.

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