Invited Short Courses

The following proposals have been invited to the 2018 NACCB Program.  This list is subject to change pending decisions of organizers. Visit the Short Course Page to learn more about this session type.

Short Course Abstracts
Survey Research Methods: Sampling and Questionnaire Design –  Organizer(s): Kenneth E Wallen, University of Arkansas; Ashley Dayer, Virginia Tech; Carly Sponarski, Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation Biology, University of Maine

Thursday July 26, 8am – 5pm, Pier 2, $10

Session Abstract:

This course focuses on survey research methods, i.e., data collection (sampling) and instrument design (questionnaires). Survey research is one of the most important areas of measurement and evaluation in applied conservation social science, practice, and policy. The broad area of survey research encompasses any measurement procedures that involves asking questions, ranging from a paper-and-pencil feedback form, a telephone interview with standardized questions, or to an on-site iPad survey. Having valid and useful data requires skilled sampling and instrument design and implementation. The purpose of this 1-day course (2, 4-hour sessions w/breaks) is to expose participants to the underlying logic of quantitative survey research methods, its application and relevance to conservation issues, terminology and concepts, and best practices, basic considerations, and research standards. The morning session will focus on key concepts of data collection: error reduction, sampling design, and survey mode (i.e., mail, telephone, email/web-based, and mixed-mode). The afternoon session will focus on key concepts of instrument design: questionnaire structure, item and scale development, and best practices for respondent contact and solicitation. The course will consist of short lectures by the instructors, presentations of past survey research efforts, participant discussion, and a question/answer session. Participants will gain firsthand experience with quantitative survey research as instructors guide them through, step-by-step, the process of conceptualizing, designing, and implementing a survey and associated questionnaire. Participants should bring their own laptops.

Using occupancy models to address conservation questions –  Organizer(s): Mariana Nagy-Reis, University of Alberta; César Estevo, University of Alberta

Saturday July 21, 1:30 – 5:30pm, Dockside 1, Sunday July 22, 12:30 – 4:30pm, Pier 2, $25

Session Abstract:

In this 8-hour course (over 2 days), we will cover the theoretical and practical foundations of occupancy modeling. Our goal is to teach this tool and make it feasible to everyone attending the course. We divided the course in two days: the first day will be dedicated to show the concepts behind this practice, the mathematical foundations of the models, and the applicability of the method in conservation studies. On the second day, the participants will have the opportunity to put in practice what they learned in the previous day. During the second day, we will demonstrate how to analyze data with occupancy models, showing how to use designated software (PRESENCE). In the sequence, we will offer a series of practical examples. The participants will have the opportunity to either work on supplied data or on their own data. On the last part of the course, we will offer a discussion session, inviting the participants to discuss their ongoing projects and/or to think of situations in which they could apply what they learned.

Google Tools for Conservation: Analysis & Storytelling –  Organizer(s): Tanya Birch, Google Earth Outreach

Saturday July 21, 8:30am – 12:30pm, Dockside 1, $0

Session Abstract:

It is important, now more than ever, to enable the exploration, discovery, and understanding of our planet. Visualization, mapping, and storytelling tools can inspire citizens, policy makers, and new generations, strengthening access to information and understanding of our planet at every scale, allowing us to help people take action on our nature, biodiversity, and sustainable development goals.

In this half-day workshop focused on Conservation Science & Education, participants will gain hands-on technical training on Google mapping software tools “from the ground to the cloud.” They will learn how to use these tools to raise awareness, reach common understanding, and take action on conservation goals. Online mapping tools offer new possibilities for collaboration, transparency, and easy access to and sharing of environmental data. Cloud-computing can support analysis of large global datasets, and methods for storytelling and visualization. Participants will gain an overview and hands-on experience:

Google Earth / Voyager / TourBuilder – environmental data visualization and storytelling in a 3D virtual world;

Google Earth Engine & Timelapse – cloud-hosting and analysis of geo data and global satellite imagery archive to measure deforestation, land cover change and more;

This workshop is intended for scientists and technology specialists doing conservation work for nonprofit organizations, governmental agencies, or research institutions. It is designed for those individuals who have hands-on experience with mapping tools such as Google Earth, Google Maps, GIS, and remote sensing software. Participants will leave with a knowledge of how to use these tools for their work, and the beginning of a mapping visualization and/or geospatial analysis for the area in which they work. This workshop is hands-on to enable participants to learn by doing; therefore, each participant must bring a laptop.

Wildlife Insights: Providing a global camera trap data management and analytics platform for wildlife conservation, monitoring, education, and outreach –  Organizer(s): Eric Fegraus, Conservation International; Tim O’Brian, Wildlife Conservation Society; Tanya Birch, Google Earth Outreach; Susan Townsend, Wildlife Ecology & Consulting; Jorge Ahumada, Conservation International; Stephanie Schuttler, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Sunday July 22, 8:30am – 12:30pm, Dockside 4, $18

Session Abstract:

Wildlife Insights is a global wildlife data platform that provides the data management and analytical tools that conservation practitioners need to make data-driven conservation actions.  We aim to build on existing camera trap monitoring efforts to create the most comprehensive wildlife monitoring platform on the planet. We envision Wildlife Insights as a growing partnership between member organizations, technology companies, foundations, individual donors, and governments. It will encompass different sectors, from science to technology, conservation, policy and outreach. The initial partners are Conservation International, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, The Smithsonian Institution, The Wildlife Conservation Society and Google. Collectively, these partners have decades of wildlife monitoring experience, including over 18 million camera trap images from around the world.

For this short course we propose a combination of lectures and hands-on training break out groups related to wildlife data management, analysis and making strides towards evaluating conservation effectiveness using camera trap data.  We expect course participants to gain significant knowledge and skillsets that they can immediately apply to wildlife monitoring projects. Throughout the day we will focus on gathering input from participants about what they need to be more successful using wildlife data to inform conservation decisions, do science and engage the public. The session will conclude with a discussion about what other tools and services Wildlife Insights could provide participants and their respective organizations.

New web-based tools for analyzing satellite Earth observations and ground-collected data –  Organizer(s): Cynthia Schmidt, Bay Area Environmental Research Institute/NASA; Lindsey Harriman, SGT, Inc. contractor to the USGS

Thursday July 26, 1pm – 5pm, Pier 8, $10

Session Abstract:

In conservation applications, satellite Earth observations are typically used to develop land cover change maps or study vegetation health for a particular region of interest. Creating these products requires expertise in processing satellite images using commercial or open source geospatial software, which often limits the number of people that can use and understand these data.  NASA’s Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LP DAAC) provides satellite land data products at no charge via a web-based data access tool. Recently, the LP DAAC developed the ability for users to analyze archived satellite data across multiple data archives without the use of image processing software. The Application for Extracting and Exploring Analysis Ready Samples (AppEEARS) is a web-based tool that enables users to subset geospatial datasets using various spatial, temporal, and band/layer parameters. The tool allows users to input points or polygons to obtain time series data specific to their study parameters. It also includes interactive visualizations of pixel values and summary statistics. AppEEARS is a new way for conservation practitioners to utilize the power of consistently collected satellite observations to help inform conservation decisions at a local or regional scale. The course will offer hands-on exercises using relevant use cases as examples to explore both the Point Sample and Area Sample functions of AppEEARS. Participants will learn how to upload point and polygon data to extract corresponding geospatial data, and the associated quality data, for specified variables over time. Use cases may include analyzing biological presence data with landscape variables, assessing vegetation health over time as well analyzing the effects of urban heat islands on wildland areas. The course will be instructed by the LP DAAC and the NASA Applied Sciences Remote Sensing Training Program (ARSET). ARSET has been providing trainings for the conservation community for several years, specifically targeted toward practitioners.

Improving conservation outcomes with social science: An application of key theories to affect attitude and behavior change –  Organizer(s): Alia Dietsch, Ohio State University; Dara Wild, Iowa State University; Marc Stern, Virginia Tech, Brooke Tully, LLC

Saturday July 21, 9am – 5pm and Sunday July 22, 8:30am – 4:30pm, Dockside 2, $25

Session Abstract:

Successful biodiversity conservation efforts require understanding of the natural environment as well as the needs and interests of people impacted by decision-making. Therefore, an understanding of how the social sciences can apply to conservation efforts is greatly needed. The purpose of this 2-day short course is to provide participants with introductory training in conservation social science theories, including the important role that values and attitudes play in eliciting behavior change. Specifically, Day 1 will focus on concepts from key social science theories/disciplines, and address the fundamental role of values in influencing human thought and action. Day 2 will focus on the importance of attitudes in conservation, and on behavior change interventions. The instructors will illustrate key concepts and theorries using examples from their work with several state and federal government agencies as well as non-governmental organizations. By the end of this course, participants will understand the role of social science theory across a wide variety of situations, and will be able to (1) inventory the social aspects of a conservation challenge, (2) select a tailored theoretical approach, and (3) identify ways in which social science can inform both conservation actions and strategies for communicating with diverse audiences to generate behavior change. Both the Social Science Working Group and Conservation Marketing Working Group of the Society for Conservation Biology endorse this important course.

Invited Workshops

The following proposals have been invited to the 2018 NACCB Program.  This list is subject to change pending decisions of organizers. Visit the Workshops Page to learn more about this session type.

Workshop Abstracts
An Introduction to HexSim Demography and Genetics –  Organizer(s): Nathan Schumaker, US Environmental Protection Agency; Marie-Josée Fortin, University of Toronto; Marcia Snyder, US Environmental Protection Agency

Thursday July 26, 8am – 12pm, Pier 8, $10

Session Abstract:

This workshop will introduce the HexSim simulation model (, and will stress its applications to species-landscape interactions, demography, and genetics.  HexSim allows users to construct PVA and other types of models without having to write computer code.  Models developed in HexSim can range from simple or hypothetical to complex and ecologically realistic.  HexSim is spatially-explicit, individual-based, multi-population, multi-stressor, and is ideal for exploring the impacts of interacting disturbance regimes on wildlife and plants.  HexSim will be useful for many conservation and management efforts, for research into stressor interactions, disease ecology, landscape genetics, source-sink interactions and landscape connectivity, and many other topics.  HexSim runs on Windows, is distributed free of charge, has a complete graphical user interface, and comes with documentation and worked examples.  This workshop will be led by the model developer.  The workshop will begin with an overview of HexSim applications and strategies.  We will then use a combination of lecture materials and hands-on examples to introduce model design, the running of simulations, and the analysis of model results.  All training materials will be provided.  Participants need only bring a laptop computer running Windows.

How to use your science to inform and influence policy for concrete conservation outcomes –  Organizer(s): Katie Gibbs, Evidence for Democracy

Sunday July 22, 1:30 – 4:30, Dockside 4, $10

Proposed Theme and Justification:

Science should provide the foundation for evidence-based decision-making around conservation issues, both in characterizing problems and in informing the manner in which they are addressed. However, in practice, this process does not always work as well as it could. The proposed workshop will explore the mechanics of how science can be used to inform and influence real policy change. We will cover an overview of general science advocacy and policy-based campaign strategies, introducing topics such as: choosing your audience or decision-maker, power mapping, how to choose between creating change via outside pressure or inside politics ,and how to augment a message to fit the public, the media, and decision-makers. We will have a four speakers give concrete examples of when and how they effectively used their research to make policy change; we will then lead participants through workshopping their own research and/or conservation policy challenge; and finally share some of these workshopping results with the group. This hands on workshop will leave participants with new tools and increased confidence taking their research out of the ivory tower and into the hands of decision-makers. This directly addresses the conference theme of how to better link conservation science with policy and practice. We think that NACCB attendees will welcome the opportunity to learn and apply new tools for using their science to inform conservation policy.

How to use social media to communicate conservation biology, and why you should –  Organizer(s): David Shiffman, Simon Fraser University

Sunday July 22, 8:30am – 12:30pm, Pier 3, $20

Session Abstract:

Social media tools have revolutionized how people communicate with one another, with massive implications for conservation and resource management professionals. In this hands-on workshop, suitable for true beginners or intermediate users hoping to learn more advanced skills, users will learn tips, tricks, and strategies for communicate conservation biology in an increasingly digital world.

During this workshop, participants will learn the fundamentals of science communication using social media, as well as some advanced tips and tricks. They will be introduced to commonly used platforms including twitter, Facebook, and blogs.  They will learn how to follow and connect with other experts.  They will learn how to share their own research and other important papers from their disciplines, including how to structure a message so that it fits into formats suitable for social media without losing accuracy or relevant detail.They will learn tips for reaching key audiences including policymakers, journalists, and interested non-expert citizens.

Dr. David Shiffman is an award-winning science communicator and has taught this workshop on five continents. Bring a laptop, and bring your questions!

Using Systematic Planning to Inform and Improve Conservation Science, Policy, and Practice –  Organizer(s): Andrew Bridges, Institute for Wildlife Studies; Quinn Shurtliff, Wastren Advantage Inc.; Robert Sutter, Enduring Conservation Outcomes

Saturday July 21, 9am – 5pm & Sunday, July 22, 8:30am – 4:30pm, Dockside 3, $40


Session Abstract:

The objective of this workshop is to teach participants the overarching philosophy, underlying principles, and specific steps of effective conservation planning based on the globally-used Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation. The training will emphasize how to identify key and desired conservation and human well-being outcomes, develop ecological models, construct a situation diagram (a model of the contributing factors from the human environment that influence conservation outcomes), incorporate empirical data and expert knowledge, integrate monitoring and adaptive management in conservation projects, and develop plans for changing and novel conditions. In addition to improving attendees’ effectiveness in the planning and practicing of conservation, the workshop will provide valuable tools for preparing grant applications, evaluating project plans, and communicating with funding agencies, the scientific community, and laypersons.

Each section typically involves introducing and teaching key Open Standards concepts, a working session (typically in breakout groups) where students apply these concepts to real-world projects, presentation of breakout group working session findings to the class, and subsequent discussion and group feedback.  Ideally, the practice projects are provided by the attending conservation biologists for use as case studies during the course. Sessions may include demonstrations illustrating the corresponding use of Miradi Software, though we will primarily focus on learning and practicing the Open Standards process as opposed to the finer points of software manipulation.

Introduction to Matrix Population Models and Demographic Analysis Using the COM(P)ADRE Matrix Databases –  Organizer(s): Judy Che-Castaldo, Lincoln Park Zoo
 Sunday July 22, 1:30pm – 4:30pm, Pier 3, $15

Session Abstract:

This workshop will introduce attendees to demographic analysis using matrix population models (MPMs), and applying those analyses to real datasets using an open-access repository of demographic information. MPMs describe the dynamics of a population in discrete time by presenting annual survival and fecundity rates for each life history stage for a population (e.g. age classes, size classes, developmental stages). MPMs can be used to calculate many demographic metrics including life expectancy, stage-specific reproductive values, and the most important stage(s) to population growth. MPMs can also be used in population viability analyses (PVAs) to project population dynamics under different conservation scenarios and compare management options. The sister databases COMPADRE and COMADRE ( contain thousands of MPMs compiled from the literature for hundreds of plant and animal species. They are therefore valuable resources for obtaining quantitative life history information and for informing species management. During this 3-hr workshop, attendees will be given a brief introductory course in MPM analysis using R and in using the COM(P)ADRE data set, which will be provided as a structured R object. The attendees will apply these skills in a set of exercises to obtain data from COM(P)ADRE, analyze a set of MPM data, and address one or more examples of conservation questions. Attendees are expected to have at least introductory-level skills in R programming, and to bring to the session their own laptop with the most up-to-date version of R installed.

Civic Engagement and Conservation Apps in the College Classroom –  Organizer(s): Jacqualine Grant, Southern Utah University

Sunday July 22, 9am -11am, Pier 2, $10

Session Abstract:

Would you like your students to be more civically engaged, but don’t know where to start, or are nervous about the perception of bias in the classroom? This workshop is for college and high school educators who would like to learn how to increase their students’ abilities to connect coursework to their civic lives. Civic engagement is the use of knowledge, skills, and values, to develop motivation to make a positive difference in communities through political and non-political processes. The goal of this workshop is to teach participants how to integrate civic engagement into their classrooms to enhance student learning and create civically engaged citizens. Because conservation science informs local, national, and international policies and practice, conservation scientists must be able to engage themselves and their communities in civic life. Science apps are on the rise, but it is often difficult to create an assignment around an app while at the same time creating an opportunity for civic engagement. This workshop is geared towards college educators, but the information could be used by high school science teachers. Participants will learn how to use the iNaturalist app as part of a civically engaged conservation assignment. Participants will learn how to integrate civic engagement into assignments and assess student work and reflection in a quantitative manner by working with civic engagement rubrics from the Association of American Colleges & Universities to enhance educational outcomes in their courses.

Introduction to qualitative data collection and analysis –  Organizer(s): Becky Thomas, Slippery Rock University; Jessica Sparks, University of Denver

Sunday July 22, 8:30am – 4:30pm, Pier 8, $40

*includes catered coffee & tea selection

Session Abstract:

The need to understand the knowledge and interests of people affected by conservation decision-making has generated increased interest in the application of social sciences to conservation. However, practitioners often lack expertise on how to effectively collect data from a diversity of audiences using social science methods. The purpose of this workshop is to provide participants with an introductory training in qualitative data collection and analysis methods. Specifically, the morning session will focus on qualitative epistemologies and research problem identification using examples from the participants’ work. The afternoon session will provide an opportunity for participants to identify and practice specific strategies for data collection (e.g., interviewing, participatory mapping, photo elicitation) and analysis (e.g., coding and overview of computer-assisted qualitative data analysis software). We will also discuss how the process of qualitative research can serve as a tool to engage stakeholders. By the end of this workshop, participants will understand the role of qualitative research in a variety of situations, and will be able to (1) Demonstrate skills in collecting and analyzing qualitative data using photoelicitation, interviewing, and participatory mapping, (2) select a tailored methodological approach for a conservation social science problem, and (3) describe how social science results can inform both conservation actions and strategies for communicating with and engaging diverse audiences.

Modeling and Mapping Climate-wise Connectivity and Relative Priority of Linkages –  Organizer(s): John Gallo, Conservation Biology Institute

Thursday July 26, 9am – 5pm, Dockside 4, $10

Session Abstract:

Habitat connectivity is a cornerstone of conservation, and in the past decade, modeling techniques have blossomed. Many of these techniques work to first map the important places on the landscape that need to be connected (cores), then map the swaths of land that connect them (linkages).  Many tools quantify the value of each path within a linkage (e.g. Linkage Mapper’s Corridor Tool), and the portions of a linkage that get dangerously narrow  (e.g. Linkage Mapper’s Pinchpoint Mapper).  The newly released Linkage Mapper v2.0 also models the relative priority of all the linkages of a given landscape. This workshop briefly introduces you to the broad array of resistance-based connectivity modeling tools available, then does a “deep dive” into Linkage Mapper.  We teach you how to use the new Linkage Priority Tool, understand important nuances for application, and how to combine with all the other other Linkage Mapper outputs (some of which call Circuitscape, a complementary tool). We also provide time for hands on use and help, so bring your laptop if you can.

The Linkage Priority Tool is based on weighted combinations among many factors. The first set of factors estimate the relative priority of the two cores at either end of a linkage. An assumption is that a linkage which connects two really important core areas is more important than one that connects two marginal core areas. The second set of factors relate directly to linkage priority, including the permeability of a linkage, the proximity, the centrality (i.e. how central the linkage is to the entire network), and an expert opinion option. Users can also include climate-wise decision-making, giving higher priority to linkages that span a climate gradient, facilitating species range shifts over decades and centuries. Users can also give higher value to cores with higher amount of climate refugia.