Capture-recapture workshop in Montpellier – 17-21 March 2014

ImageWe’ll be running our annual workshop in March 2014 in Montpellier. It’ll be about capture-recapture models seen under the hidden Markov modelling prism (aka multievent models) and their implementation in the E-SURGE software. The usual team is involved, plus Dave Koons as our guest star.

Check out the website !!


ISEC 2014 abstract submission now open!

logo_isec_rvb_100dpiDear all,

Authors are now invited to submit an abstract for their presentation or poster for the fourth biennial International Statistical Ecology Conference (ISEC2014), to be held 1-4 July 2014 in Montpellier France, at:

This conference will convene experts from around the world to present and discuss issues of interest to ecological statisticians and biologists.
We will hold sessions focused upon mark-recapture methods, distance sampling methods, other abundance estimation techniques, monitoring of biodiversity, survey design and analysis for estimating population trends, modelling of spatial trends in animal density, integrated population modelling, stochastic population dynamics modelling, stochastic multispecies modelling, individual-based model fitting, and stochastic modelling of animal movement.

We have a tremendous group of plenary speakers:
Marti Anderson (New Zealand). Some solutions to the Behrens-Fisher problem for multivariate ecological data.
Mark Beaumont (UK). Statistical inference for complicated models in ecology and evolutionary biology.
Ben Bolker (Canada). Statistical machismo vs common sense: when are new methods worthwhile?
Nicholas Gotelli (USA). The Well-Tempered Assemblage: Reducing Bias in the Estimation of Species Rank Abundance Distributions.
Jean-Dominique Lebreton (France). The interplay of relevance and generalization in Biostatistics.
Perry de Valpine (USA). Bayesians, frequentists, and pragmatists: the interaction of methods and software
Chris Wikle (USA). Ecological Prediction with High-Frequency ‘Big Data’ Covariates.
Simon Wood (UK). Statistical methods for non-linear ecological dynamic models.

There will also be pre-conference workshops within the area of ecological statistics taking place 28 June to 1 July.

Please place the dates of this conference into your diaries (1-4 July 2012) and visit the conference website for updates.

Best regards,
The ISEC2014 Local Organizing Committee

4-month internship (M1): To breed or not to breed – A dilemma in the Dalmatian Pelican’s life

SupervisionOlivier Gimenez & Alain Crivelli

Description: Life history theory predicts that individuals balance costs and benefits associated with trade-offs between current and future reproduction. If breeding early does not reduce future reproduction, then individuals reproducing early in life should have a better fitness than individuals delaying their reproduction. This delayed reproduction is often associated with long life or limited ressources.

Here, we will study the costs of reproduction as a function of age at first reproduction in the Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus) as well as other potential drivers such as density and food availability. The study site is Amvrakikos in Greece. More than 900 chicks have been marked, and almost 800 nesting individuals have been detected. For almost 300 of these individuals, we were able to determine breeding success over life. Over 25 years of study, more than 4000 observations have been recorded.



Cubaynes, Doherty, Schreiber & Gimenez (2011). To breed or not to breed: seabirds response to extreme climatic events. Biology Letters 7: 303-306.

Desprez, Pradel, Cam, Monnat & Gimenez (2011). Now you see him, now you don’t: Experience, not age, is related to reproduction in Kittiwakes. Proc. of the Royal Soc. B 278: 3060-3066

Doxa, Theodorou, Hatzilacou, Crivelli & Robert (2010). Joint effects of inverse density-dependence and extreme environmental variation on the viability of a social bird species. EcoScience 17: 203-2015.

Gimenez & cie (2013). How can quantitative ecology be attractive to young scientists? Balancing computer/desk work with fieldwork. Animal Conservation 16:134-136.

PhD position in Biodemography

Below is a PhD position in which our team will be largely involved. Feel free to apply!

PhD Position in Biodemography at Centre d’Etudes Biologiques de Chizé ‐ CNRS, France
We are looking for one PhD student – funded by CNRS through the European Research Council (ERC) program EARLYLIFE (PI H. Weimerskirch) – to contribute to our research program investigating the foraging behaviour and demography of the early life of long lived marine mammals and seabirds.

A major goal in biodiversity conservation is to predict responses of populations to environmental change. To achieve this goal, quantitative information on juvenile and immature stages is essential because their mortality controls recruitment to reproductive stages and the future of populations, but also because it is young individuals that disperse most and have the potential to emigrate and colonise new environments. In this research program (EARLYLIFE) we investigate how young individuals respond to environmental changes in terms of foraging skills, foraging ecology and demography and how this affects the population dynamics. For this, we employ biodemographic analysis of long‐term data from natural populations of long‐lived marine top predators (seabirds ands seals) and extensive tracking data on juveniles and adults.

Towards these goals, a PhD position will take the lead on the analysis of juvenile survival and recruitment processes and on the effects of juvenile individual characteristics (body size, body condition, foraging skills, habitat use) and environmental factors on these demographic rates. Telemetry data will allow making inferences on the spatio‐temporal mortality of juveniles and on the variables of the physical environment affecting juvenile mortality. In the light of these results a retrospective analysis of our long term demographic database will allow to test the effects of environmental conditions encountered during early life on juvenile survival and recruitment processes and to estimate the genetic component of foraging tactics.

The student will work with advanced statistical models to investigate juvenile survival and recruitment processes (e.g., multistate, multievent and known‐fate capture recapture models, integrated population models, state‐space models), with long‐term capture recapture time series (from 20 to 40 years) of seabirds (albatrosses and petrels), and with tracking data (newly developed loggers using the GPS and Argos technology). Possibility to contribute to fieldwork on albatrosses and petrels, although not compulsory.

• MSc degree (or equivalent) in population ecology, biostatistics, evolutionary biology, or a relevant field.
• Solid knowledge of and demonstrated interest in population ecology and population dynamics in changing environments.
• Strong quantitative skills, proficiency in statistical analysis and demographic modelling in R or Matlab, and good experience in capture recapture modelling.

The PhD will be based at Centre d’Etudes Biologiques de Chizé (CNRS, Chizé, France) under the supervision of Christophe Barbraud and Henri Weimerskirch with ample collaboration with biostatisticians from Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive (CNRS, Montpellier, France) and with ecologists at CNRS Chizé. Net Salary will be c. 1500€.

Please send the following material in a single PDF file to Christophe Barbraud, Henri Weimerskirch and Olivier Gimenez. Screening of applicants will start October 2nd, 2013 and continue until the position is filled.
• Cover letter indicating your motivation and expectations from this PhD
• Detailed CV
• One page summary of your MSc degree
• Contact information for two references

Being a French postdoc abroad; the language barrier

MrRudeBy Guillaume Péron, Bénédicte Madon, Sabrina Servanty, Lucile Marescot and Sarah Cubaynes.

Some of you may have noticed, lots of French postdocs are in labs around the world. For us it’s more and more a pre-requisite in order to get academic positions (meaning recruitment starts at a good 10 years post high school in the best case scenario, but more on this later).

We thought it would be amusing to write a few posts about this life that we are leading or have led; based on our experience this will involve only anglo-saxon countries (US, Australia, UK). OK, so it’s going to be mostly mishaps, criticisms, and complaints, but we hope those posts will be at least some times funny. Maybe they can be of use to either graduates entering the postdoc life (and comparing it to full time unemployment), or to PIs considering hiring one of those funny-speaking people.

The language barrier

So let’s start with the obvious; English is an acquired taste for us. Although we are confident saying that in most cases, our working English is largely good enough, we also readily acknowledge that there is a difference between working English and fluent English! Social life can be a whole lot different when small talk is an effort and requires 100% of your brain power! The first couple of months are exhausting and it takes time usually to realize that it’s mainly due to the language. If you end up doing a postdoc in an area where there aren’t that many foreigners, people might even think you do not speak English. Having a phone conversation is usually the worst. It can be quite a challenge if you’re going to have a lot of conference calls during your postdoc, especially when it’s involving a big group. And some days, it can be very frustrating and make you feel less capable at your job than native speakers.

We are often asked for examples of funny misunderstandings. Those do happen, so here are a few that we remember right off the bat. Repeating the same word trying different pronunciations hoping to be eventually understood (Dee-sai-FER? Deh-SSAI-fer? Come one, DEE-ssi-feur?)… Ending up writing down this damn word on a piece of paper (decipher everyone). Asking someone to spell a word (e.g. a street name) just to get lost after the 3 first letters, too ashamed to ask again, ending up trying to match up with whatever info we already had. And let’s end with a funny anecdote. You can read the dialogue with a French accent in your mind for added fun. One of us had been in the US for a week, and was looking around for rental apartments. She got lost after the first place she visited. So, she asked a guy in the street.

“Hi, excuse me, I’m lost. Do you know where is the New-York metro station please?”

“Sure, go straight, pass the bridge and when you see five guys, turn left.”

“OK, thanks a lot! Have a good one.” Thinking at the same time, “Well I’m not sure I get it right. How the hell does he know that there is going to be 5 guys after the bridge ?!!!!”

But anyway, straight she went, passed the bridge and planned to ask the next passerby for more info. 5 Guys turned out to be a fast food chain 🙂

After several months or even years, you’re thinking that your English is better, which is true in a sense (especially after some beers at the pub), until you’re making a phone call or meeting someone for the first time and this person is struggling to understand what you’re saying. You then realize that actually people with whom you have been interacting every day are just used to your accent and your way of speaking. Or they just grew tired and act as if they understand you. But don’t put too much pressure on you because if you witness a conversation between an Australian and an American, you will realize that they’re also struggling to understand each other. #WhereIzDeNirestBakeryPlize