The III Porto Alegre Workshop on Hierarchical Modeling for Ecologists took place October 9-15, 2016. This was the third in a series of Porto Alegre Hierarchical Modeling Workshops, started in 2014. Each edition is focused on a particular modeling topic and the theme for 2016 is site-occupancy modeling with emphasis on the analysis of species distributions. The workshop opened with a one-day introduction to linear, generalized-linear and mixed models, describing their implementation in the Bayesian and likelihood frameworks. From day two on, we turned our attention to modeling species distributions, focusing on the powerful site-occupancy models, which deal explicitly with measurement errors in species detection/non-detection data. We first studied the basic MacKenzie et al. (2002) static model, and then developed a range of variations on the basic theme, with particular attention to dynamic occupancy models, mis-identification models, and spatial models of species distribution. Please click here for a detailed syllabus. A large part of the content drew on three successful applied statistics books co-authored by Marc Kéry and published by Academic Press (2010, 2012, and 2016). Most models were implemented in a Bayesian framework, but we also studied likelihood implementations, especially in the user-friendly R-package 'unmarked'.
The workshop sessions were led by Drs. Marc Kéry, from the Swiss Ornithological Institute, David Miller, from Penn State University, and Gonçalo Ferraz, from the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS). Marc, David, and Gonçalo worked in collaboration with a team of three PhD students and one post-doc who co-taught some of the sessions and assisted participants during computer exercises: Ulisses M. Camargo, from the University of Helsinki; Nicolas Strebel, from the Swiss Ornithological Institute; Courtney Davis, from Penn State University; and Dr. Murilo Guimarães, from UFRGS. The workshop was organized by the Ferraz Population Biologogy Laboratory, at UFRGS, with support from the UFRGS Graduate Program in Ecology, the Finnish Ministry of Education, the Swiss Ornithological Institute, and Penn State University. Everyone was housed at the Haras-Cambará Inn, a family-managed farmhouse in the rural Lami neighborhood of southern Porto Alegre.