Synthesising with ACEAS

Last week I was lucky enough to attend a workshop at the Australian Centre for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (ACEAS) at the University of Queensland. ACEAS is part of the Terrestrial Ecological Research Network (TERN), funded by the Australian Government. Inspired the famous American version, ACEAS seeks to facilitate the integration, synthesis and modelling of ecosystem data to aid in the development of environmental management strategies.

Our job last week was to collate data on the distribution and demography of several Australian frogs, and to use those data to develop models of population dynamics under climate change. The objective: to assess extinction risks, and identify management options to mitigate those risks.  See more on our group page.

Now, here’s the great thing about ACEAS. Autecologists like me are keen to tackle these sorts of projects, but often lack the modelling skills required. On the flip side, ecological modellers interested in these questions are often constrained by their knowledge of the species under study, particularly where to find the information needed to parameterise their models (which frequently hides in Honours or PhD theses, unpublished reports, someone’s hard drive or a dusty filing cabinet). ACEAS brings these two groups together, and harnesses their collective skills to tackle important questions in applied ecology.

Want a workshop of your own? Well, it just so happens that the next round of ACEAS funding is in October. You can enquire with ACEAS direct from here, and find instructions of how to apply here. I can highly recommend it!

I’ll write more about the frog project in blogs to come. For now, let me say a big thanks to Tracey Regan and David Keith for leading the charge and inviting me along, to all the group members for a great week (including our most recent member, Reid Tingley), and to ACEAS for their fantastic hospitality, and their broader efforts to bridge the gap between those with the data, and those with the models.