Online Workshops for ESA2020

We are pleased to offer the following online workshops for ESA2020.

Participation in the online workshops is included in all full registrations. Numbers are limited, and pre-registration is required.

1. Lunchtime Discussion: Teaching ecology in unusual times

Monday 30 November, 1230 – 1330

The year 2020 has thrown up a few challenges for ecologists teaching in Australia universities. The bushfires of Summer and their dramatic impacts made conversations and debates about ecology front page news, revealing an urgent need to enhance public scientific literacy. The global pandemic caused by COVID19 then opened the door opportunities for conversations about human-wildlife conflicts, population growth, and disease transmission. This rapidly pivoted to a new and challenging problem; how can we teach ecology to university students well when field experiences and practical activities are difficult, if not impossible, to undertake?

The ESA Education working group was reformed in 2019 with the aims of developing a community of practice among ecologists with interests in teaching and education. At the 2020 annual meeting the group will run an online interactive session to explore how ecologists have responded to isolation, distancing and institutional change in their university teaching. At this session, we will provide opportunities for sharing examples of good practice, reflections on how the approaches affected student experiences, and identifying opportunities for the future. As well as this, we will have the conversations about what things didn’t work well. So it doesn’t matter if you’re a glass half full or glass half empty person… there’s something for everyone.

We will identify how we, as a society, can support and promote ecologists with significant teaching roles. Ultimately, we want to develop a culture of sharing examples of good teaching practice to make the teaching of ecology at Australian universities the best that it can be.

2. Sharing your data through TERN Data Infrastructure workshop

Workshop organisers: Siddeswara Guru, University of Queensland, email:, and  Jenny Mahuika, University of Queensland, email:

Tuesday 1 December 1210 – 1315
Workshop description

The workshop will be a hands-on tutorial and presentation on using web-based SHaRED ( tool to submit ecosystem research data that will be deposited in TERN metadata catalogue and discoverable from TERN Data Discovery Portal. The SHaRED will enable data submitter to comply with ISO 19115-3 metadata standard, use domain-specific controlled vocabularies, use open license and assign DOI for data. Data can be submitted as an attachment, standard web services and RESTful APIs.

3. Early Career Ecology: How do you write a job application during a pandemic? So glad you (m)asked…

Workshop organisers: Steph Courtney Jones: Early Career Ecologists Working Group Chair; Research School of Biology, Australian National University, and Leanda Mason: Ordinary Director – Early Career Ecologist; Curtin University

Tuesday 1 December 1210 – 1400
Workshop description

A career in ecology is challenging and rewarding; and the ESA community is fostering the development and progression of people through diverse, ecologically aligned career pathways. However, it can be difficult to get on the first rung of the career ladder and navigating a career outside the traditional avenues of ecology can be even tougher. This is a perennial problem for early career ecologists, with the first hurdle being the application process and capturing the attention of would-be employers.
During these unprecedented times, it may be especially difficult to maintain a sense of hope and persist towards your personal goals and career objectives. The Early Career Ecologists working group would like to help you feel supported and provide a space to discuss any concerns for the future, while also providing some practical assistance for the current job market. After some considerations regarding the context in which we are all currently operating, this workshop will focus on job applications. Here, we have sourced examples of successful cover letters for various career paths for ecologists to look at the structure, content, and differences and similarities, helping ECEs to find their ‘voice’ and develop a strong application. This workshop will be an inclusive, networking opportunity and we openly encourage everyone to attend and contribute regardless of career stage or career path.

This workshop will consist of two components. Firstly, to build and develop a supportive community through discussion of shared challenges and concerns during this stage of our careers. Any impacts of the global pandemic will also be discussed, with a focus on maintaining wellbeing and hope for the future. Second, we take a close look at the cover letter and requirements for different career pathways in ecology. Using a group discussion format, we will discuss the ways to develop an engaging letter using examples from successful applications. We hope that from this workshop, that participants will feel confident to develop a strong application to show your motivation, with the skills to do the job.

4. Sci-what?! How to communicate your science effectively

Workshop organisers: Dr Euan Ritchie, Associate Professor in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Deakin University, and
Dr Jen Martin, Science Communication Teaching Program (@UniMelbSciComm), University of Melbourne

Wednesday 2 December 1200 – 1400
Workshop description

A 2-hour workshop offering tips and ideas for ecologists wishing to more effectively communicate their work with different audiences.

This will include:

  • Options for building an online profile
  • Effective use of social media
  • Working effectively with the media
  • Presenting complex issues clearly and succinctly
  • Communicating with a general audience

The session will include an informal Q&A session for participants to ask individual questions.

5. ecoEd – training for next generation researchers and practitioners in ecological and environmental problem solving

Workshop organisers: Dr Elisa Bayraktarov, EcoCommons Program Manager, Griffith University,, and Dr Jenna Wraith, EcoCommons Business and Scientific Analyst, Griffith University,

Wednesday 2 December 1230 – 1330
Workshop description

This workshop introduces the training stream ecoEd of the EcoCommons Program – the go-to platform providing access to data and analytics for ecological and environmental modelling. The workshop is of interest to any undergraduates, early career researchers, interested ecologists, government practitioners and industry professionals who are keen to explore avenues to upskill through training on how to harness the power of digital research infrastructures such as data portals and virtual laboratories that enable easier access to data and analytical tools. It is of particular interest to lecturers or trainers who want to absorb ready-to-use lecture and workshop modules along with tools and knowledge on how to use digital innovation platforms for environmental problem solving for their own curricula or training programs, hence want to become ‘ecoEd Champions’ and share the wisdom at their own institutions.

Digital research infrastructures such as data portals and virtual laboratories enable easier access to data and analytical tools. Such infrastructures are essential to deliver research excellence that drives innovation, but we also need to ensure that we have a skilled workforce that can use these infrastructures. Therefore, training and skill development of students, researchers, government practitioners and industry professionals is key to the long-term success of this investment. In Australia, a suite of digital infrastructures such as the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) or the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) were developed for environmental sciences to enhance our understanding of the natural world and making forward projections into novel conditions. These infrastructures joined forces with several other research and higher education organisations to develop the recently ARDC-funded EcoCommons Program which builds the go-to platform providing easy access to dataset and analytics to researchers and decision makers dealing with ecological or environmental problem solving. To provide users with a holistic approach to environmental spatial data discovery and analysis, the ecoEd was developed as an exciting and innovative training program within EcoCommons. ecoEd (explanatory animation:, offers cohesive training and skills development to university lecturers, researchers and industry professionals enabling them to combine theoretical concepts with real-world applications. In this workshop, we will show how ecoEd was developed and introduce the resources it offers including ready-to-use lecture and workshop modules along with tools and knowledge on how to use services of digital platforms such those offered by EcoCommons. These resources can immediately be used in undergraduate courses that focus on topics such as ecology, biogeography, conservation biology, environmental management and spatial analysis. The training program aims to provide training sessions to ‘ecoEd Champions’ at local institutions in Australia and equip them with the resources and knowledge required so that they can confidently re-deliver the lectures and workshops in their own institutions. As such, ecoEd is increasing the capacity of Australia’s environmental science community to advance science and deliver outcomes that underpin the sustainable use of our ecosystems using the latest advances in digital technologies. Moreover, it is enabling first-rate science education in Australia by supporting and nurturing our future scientists. Our learnings will not only be of interest to people working in the environmental science domain, but to anyone aspiring to run training programs related to digital infrastructures. ecoEd modules will be introduced which provide training material on the following topics:

  • 10 Eco Data Things: a suite of activities to explore issues surrounding management of research data, specifically for people working with ecological data.
  • Biodiversity Data Quality: addresses different aspects of data quality, and how to select biodiversity data that is fit for your purpose using the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) Spatial Portal.
  • Australian Ecological Data: explores how to obtain and use spatial data from the suite of Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) tools with a practical exercise getting data using the AusPlotsR package.
  • Species Distributions & Climate Change: addresses the fundamental aspects of modelling species distributions and how a changing climate might affect biodiversity, and how to run these models in the Biodiversity and Climate Change Virtual Laboratory (BCCVL).
  • Multi-Criteria Analysis: covering multiple aspects of multi-criteria analysis (MCA) and how to apply this knowledge in a free spatial software tool (MCAS-S).
  • Environmental Microbial Diversity: explores how to assess the complexity and abundance of specific taxonomic groupings of microbes through combining DNA sequencing technology with bioinformatics approaches using Galaxy Australia.
  • R in the Cloud: providing an introduction to cloud computation with tutorials to use the RStudio cloud server through ecocloud for ecological analyses of data produced by an SDM experiment in the BCCVL.

Those modules were developed in collaboration with the ALA, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARES), TERN, Griffith University, the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) and others.

6. Tips and Tricks for Starting an online Seminar Series

Workshop organiser: Jasmin Packer

Thursday 3 December 1230 – 1330
Workshop description

We aim to encourage anyone who is, or has considered, running an event series for ecologists and our environmental science community. This will be a hands-on and practical session to share our tips, tricks, and learnings.

If we can do this – you can too!

7. Using Virtual Laboratories to solve environmental problems – the EcoCommons Australia Program showcases it analytical tools

Workshop organisers: Dr Elisa Bayraktarov, EcoCommons Program Manager, Griffith University,, and Dr Jenna Wraith, EcoCommons Business and Scientific Analyst, Griffith University,

Thursday 3 December 1230 – 1330
Workshop description

This workshop is suitable for Early Career researchers, undergraduates and ecologists with a keen interest to learn how to harness the power of cloud computing and use Virtual Laboratories to streamline environmental problem solving. We will showcase and use some of the newest tools of the digital innovation platform, EcoCommons Australia. This course is very suitable for researchers and practitioners with limited coding skills who have the desire to use the most advanced modelling tools for species distribution modelling, climate projections and data cube analysing.

Recent technologies have enabled consistent and continuous collection of ecological data at high resolutions across large spatial scales. The challenge remains, however, to bring these data together and expose them to methods and tools to analyse the interaction between biodiversity and the environment. These challenges are mostly associated with the accessibility, visibility and interoperability of data, and the technical computation needed to interpret the data. The EcoCommons program was recently funded under the Australian Research Data Commons Platforms initiative to provide solutions to these challenges. The EcoCommons program includes initiatives such as the Biodiversity and Climate Change Virtual Laboratory (BCCVL) and the ecocloud Platform which together support more than 5000 researchers based at over 400 different organisations in more than 30 countries worldwide. The program will pave the way for paradigm-shifting breakthroughs by providing a springboard for collaboration between researchers and decision-makers concerned with biodiversity including ecosystem services, biosecurity, natural resource management and climate-related impacts and responses.

Here we present an overview of the EcoCommons as a whole and introduce the workshop participants to use three of the currently available tools that support researchers and decision-makers through easy access to global biodiversity, climate and environmental datasets integrated with a suite of analytical tools and linked to high-performance cloud computing infrastructure. The Biodiversity and Climate Change Virtual Laboratory (BCCVL) is a point-and-click online platform for modelling species responses to environmental conditions, which provides an easy introduction into the scientific concepts of models without the need for the user to understand the code behind the models. For ecologists who write their own modelling scripts, we have developed ecocloud: a new online environment that provides access to data connected with command-line analysis tools like RStudio & Jupyter Notebooks as well as a virtual desktop environment using Australia’s national cloud computing infrastructure. The ecocloud is built through collaborations among key facilities within the ecosciences domain, establishing a collective long-term vision of creating an ecosystem of infrastructure that provides capability to enable reliable prediction of future environmental outcomes. We will showcase the newest tool for the analysis of large data cubes called SilverEye. SilverEye enables the users to splice and dice climate data cubes and produce aggregated (mean, max, min, median) subsets based on a selected area.
This workshop will showcase the tools, services, and underpinning infrastructure alongside our training and engagement framework as an exemplar in building platforms for next generation biodiversity science. After the workshop, the participants will have enough knowledge to use these services free of charge and in their own time of their specific environmental problems.

8. Writing for Publication workshop

Workshop organiser: Nigel Andrew

Friday 4 December 0900 – 1530
Workshop description

This one-day workshop will be primarily focussed towards researchers who are at the beginning of the publication treadmill, but there may be tips that people who have been through the publication process a few times will also pick up. There will be plenty of Q/A time and work-shopping.

Elements of the workshop:

  • What to publish?
  • Constructing a paper
  • Effective science writing
  • The publication pipeline
  • Authorship
  • Publication ethics
  • Which journal?
  • Promoting your research

Friday Workshop: Considering Bioacoustics Monitoring? Factors to consider and How to Start.

Workshop presenters: Dave Roberts, and Ali Donargo,

Friday 4 December 0900 – 1100
Workshop description

This webinar will explore how bioacoustics can be used as a survey and research tool, either as a stand alone method or in conjunction with other techniques. The focus will be on deployment methods, best-practices for survey techniques, and data analysis. Case studies will be used to illustrate the benefits of using a wildlife audio recorder for projects such as individual species monitoring, species assemblage assessment, habitat health, citizen science and academic research. No previous experience is required for this webinar

Friday Workshop – Radio-tracking with Wildlife Drones

Workshop organiser: Debbie Saunders

Friday 4 December 1200 – 1400
Workshop description

As a wildlife researcher working on small, endangered birds, Dr Debbie Saunders loves collecting data that directly contributes to improving conservation management. Her fascination and passion for understanding animal movements, mixed with the prohibitively time consuming and labour-intensive nature of radio-tracking, have resulted in the development of Wildlife Drones – the world’s most effective drone radio-tracking system. In this interactive workshop, we will share experiences and challenges associated with radio-tracking projects, and provide a demonstration of Wildlife Drones’ tracking system – including what it looks like, how it works, and what it takes to use this technology in the field to get the reliable data you need. This includes collecting more data, more often, tracking up to 40 animals simultaneously and being able to create a high point wherever you are to increase tag detectability. We will also highlight case studies from across Australia and internationally to provide real world examples of how this technology has been used in the field. This includes projects tracking Sunda Pangolins in Vietnam, Kakapo in New Zealand and various species across Australia.