ESA 2024 Workshops

We are pleased to confirm the following workshops for ESA 2024.

Pre-conference workshops are held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC)

Workshops on 13 December are held at the University of Melbourne

Interested in organising a workshop?

If you would like to propose a workshop, please download the following form and return it to esa@kaigi.com.au: Workshop-Submission-Form-2024

Workshop: A horizon scan of future priorities to support the sustainability of plant-soil ecosystems in Australia

Sunday 8 December 2024
10:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Venue: Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC)

Participation fee: $0. This workshop is funded by the Australian Academy of Science Theo Murphy Initiative. 
includes morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea

Organisers: Christina Birnbaum, Eleonora Egidi, Jeff Powell, Anna Hopkins

This workshop is part of Australian Academy of Science Theo Murphy funded initiative. ESA 2024 delegates interested in the future of plant-soil systems in Australia are invited to participate. The workshop will assess the current issues and future challenges in sustainably managing plant-soil systems in Australia.

Workshop activities will include:

  • Introductory presentation and overview of short-listed plant-soil future challenges in Australia. Following Horizon scan procedure, the short list will be presented to participants at the workshop.
  • Break-out groups to assess the short-listed issues and revision of short-listed issues.
  • Way forward discussion and manuscript discussion to conclude the workshop.

Workshop / Working Group: Future ecosystems

Sunday 8 December 2024
11:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Venue: Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC)

Participation fee: $45 inc GST
includes lunch and light afternoon tea

Organisers: Mark Westoby and Daniel Falster

This workshop is for brainstorming by ecology researchers and managers. By “future ecosystems” we mean to address what ecosystems might be like in a substantially changed world, for example 4 oC warmer, with livestock withdrawn from grazing lands due to replacement by cell culture meat and milk, and with shorter intervals for very severe fire weather. The workshop will aim to communally sketch out whatever we can about possible future states, working within a state-and-transition framework (https://research.csiro.au/biodiversity-knowledge/projects/models-framework/). Also about mechanisms that might facilitate or block transitions to future states. Which ecosystems we discuss will depend on who participates. In building catalogues of possible future states and transitions, we would also collect citations to evidence or models where possible. Toward the end of the afternoon we can discuss possibilities for bringing ideas together and for future research.


Workshop: How to ensure Indigenous research priorities are effectively included in environmental research

Sunday 8 December 2024
12:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Venue: Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC)

Participation fee: funded by the National Indigenous Environmental Research Network (NIERN)
includes lunch and afternoon tea

Organisers: Teagan Shields and Leah Talbot

The National Indigenous Environmental Research Network (NIERN) is an Indigenous-led initiative designed to improve Indigenous decision-making in relating to the National Environmental Research Program. Indigenous groups have been lobbying for years to have a voice in setting the environmental research priorities and agenda. This workshop will help inform NIERN and ensure the design is Indigenous led and guided, with a focus on the NIERN roles and functions. The workshop will also focus on a practice application of NIERN and take a deep dive into the policy setting and recognition of Culturally Significant Entities.

Please note, this workshop is focused at Indigenous land and sea practitioners and Indigenous researchers.


Workshop: Children’s ecological stories: Engaging eager minds

Thursday 12 December 2024
1:30 PM - 3:30 PM
Venue: Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC)

Participation fee: complimentary for delegates with a Full or Thursday Day Registration

Organisers: Samantha Lloyd and Briana Melideo

Science and nature picture books and stories have always held a special place in the hearts of children. However, appreciation and recognition for the broad and beneficial outcomes of science and nature-based children’s literature has grown rapidly over the past decade. In particular, there has been increasing demand and interest in ecological and environmental books. No longer are these titles confined to the classroom or school library! Beautiful, engaging and informative books are being published for children and their grown ups to enjoy in their home and outside of formal learning environments. These books include various forms of non-fiction (e.g. traditional, narrative, and expository) and realistic fiction. Australian publishers are leading the way, showcasing the unique and fasinating Australian environment, science and technology knowledge and stories on the national and international literary stage.

This fun and engaging session will be facilitated by Briana Melideo, Books Publisher at CSIRO Publishing, with over 20years experience in the industry and Dr Sam Lloyd, Principal Scientist with Healthy Land and Water and children’s author, with over 20years experience in ecological research, management and communication.

ESA delegates with an interest in writing for children, communication and education are encouraged to join this fun and informative workshop. Learn more about children’s ecological literature, what publishers are looking for and how to prepare a book proposal!

Content includes:

  • Introduction: children’s science and nature-based publishing in Australia.
  • Hear from the publisher: what publishers are looking for and how to prepare a proposal.
  • Hear from an author: the joy, opportunities and challenges of publishing an ecological children’s book.
  • Draft your idea: Attendees will have the opportunity to start drafting a book proposal and seek feedback (not compulsory).
  • Group discussion: A group discussion will provide opportunities for broad feedback of ideas/proposals (it is not compulsory to share proposals).

Workshop: ‘How the sausage is made’: connecting ecology, policy and law to influence decision-making for a better future

Friday 13 December 2024
9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Venue: The University of Melbourne

Participation fee: $65 inc GST
includes morning tea

Organisers: ESA Policy Working Group – Lizzy Lowe, Charlotte Patterson, Holly Sitters, Cara Marshall, Daniel Rogers, Phillipa McCormack

This workshop offers a unique opportunity for ESA2024 delegates to gain practical insights into effectively communicating ecological evidence to decision-makers. Aimed at ecologists at all career stages, from early career researchers to advanced professionals / academics, the workshop will provide valuable strategies and tools for enhancing communication skills and influencing relevant environmental/ecological policy.

Workshop content includes:
– Introduction to the importance of communication between ecologists and decision-makers
– ‘Speed Stories’ session featuring diverse perspectives and experiences
– Panel discussion moderated by experts in ecology, law, and policy
– Interactive sessions on practical communication strategies and techniques.


Workshop: Build Your Own Call Recogniser: Integrating Passive Acoustic Monitoring with AI for Scalable Biodiversity Tracking

Friday 13 December 2024
9:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Venue: The University of Melbourne

Participation fee: $25 inc GST
Includes morning tea

Organisers: Philip Eichinski, Anthony Truskinger, Rob Clemens, Tom Denton and Paul Roe

This workshop is for people undertaking acoustic monitoring of the environment and who would like to build call recognisers for their species of interest. The pace of advancements in AI pipelines for eco-acoustics has been remarkably rapid in the last two years. This workshop will provide attendees with tools to apply these advancements to quickly and easily build classification models and use them to analyse long duration acoustic data sets to find their species. At the end of the workshop participants will have a recogniser which they can use to analyse their acoustic data.

Participants are required to bring along some example of calls they wish to find and some data they wish to analyse.

Attendees will need a laptop to make the most of this demonstration of the powerful new tools on the cutting edge of Ecoacoustics. The workshop will provide a summary of these new methods, a demonstration, and an interactive session where users will be encouraged to easily develop their own recogniser.

Content includes:

  • Introduction: using pretrained model for embeddings overview and theory
  • Converting your target long recordings to embedding an representation
  • Preparing your labelled data
  • Building a training set
  • Refining your training set
  • Assessing accuracy and ability to generalise
  • Publishing the recogniser
  • Running the recogniser at scale.

Workshop: Articles for Action: how to write research papers useful to land managers, practitioners, policy-makers and the public

Friday 13 December 2024
9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Venue: The University of Melbourne

Participation fee: $65 inc GST
includes morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea

Organiser: Andrew Knight

Most people conducting research in the disciplines of ecology, and natural resource management more generally, probably like the idea of their research being used to conserve, restore and ensure the sustainable use of land, water and ocean. Research published in peer-reviewed scientific journals is not taken-up by implementers of these activities in the majority of cases. Beyond simply not having access to journals locked behind pay-walls, the way in which information and knowledge is presented in articles in peer-reviewed journals is also a hinderance. This workshop looks to assist you to move beyond simply excellent scientific writing towards writing for the people you want to adopt your research, namely, land managers, practitoners, policy-makers and the public. This workshop looks to assist all conference attendees, and particularly early-career researchers, volunteers, students, and those new to the sector.

Workshop content to include:
– Why and what to publish that is useful to implementers of action.
– Identifying and undertanding your audience – the diversity of rights-holders and stakeholders in natural resource management projects and programs
– Ways of communicating in writing that meets implementers needs
– Ethical research and publishing


Workshop: Sharing biodiversity data using the ‘galaxias’ R package

Friday 13 December 2024
9:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Venue: The University of Melbourne

Participation fee: $0. Supported by the Atlas of Living Australia.

Organisers: Martin Westgate and Dax Kellie, Atlas of Living Australia

Collectively, ecologists collect vast numbers of biodiversity observations as part of one-off or ongoing projects, but these observations are not always shared once the attendant research is completed and published. Conversely, infrastructures such as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) are focussed solely on storing and sharing biodiversity data, but use data formats that an be difficult to understand and use.

This workshop will demonstrate ‘galaxias’, an R package to help users share their data using the ‘Darwin Core’ standard, which is the format used by GBIF and it’s partner nodes (such as the Atlas of Living Australia). The software will be demonstrated and participants will discuss common questions around formatting, sensitive data, and data ownership.

Workshop attendees are encouraged to bring their own example datasets to test the software, and a laptop to run it on; some familiarity with R is assumed. Attendees will also have the opportunity to provide feedback on how the software could be improved to better support their needs.


Workshop: Modelling heat and activity stress in plants and animals with NicheMapR

Friday 13 December 2024
9:30 AM - 4:00 PM
Venue: The University of Melbourne

Participation fee: $65 inc GST
includes morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea

Organisers: Dr Kristoffer Wild, Dr Natalie Briscoe and Professor Michael Kearney

Mechanistic niche modelling is a growing area of ecology that applies physical principles of energy and mass balance to organisms and their microclimates to understand where they can persist. Mechanistic niche models can be used to understand environmental constraints on microhabitat use and behaviour, life histories and life cycles, and ultimately, species distribution and abundance. They are particularly important for predicting species’ responses to novel environmental changes, including climate change.

This session will provide an overview of the core concepts of mechanistic niche modelling and then will focus on how the R package NicheMapR can be used to identify how climate constrains the distribution of animals in a process-explicit way. Using pre-developed shiny apps, we will first introduce microclimate modelling and then apply microclimate model outputs to three broad taxonomical groups (mammal, lizard, plant) to show examples of how to solve heat and water budgets. The session will use a series of introductions to theoretical principles behind estimations, demonstrations of the package via R Shiny apps, and R code (provided) to teach participants basic ideas and how to get started with the approach.

The aim of this workshop is to equip researchers with a comprehensive understanding of model application techniques while offering tailored support to integrate these models into their respective systems. This workshop is designed to equip early career researchers, undergraduates, and advanced ecologists across various disciplines with the practical skills to use mechanistic niche modelling for understanding and predicting how animals respond to climate change.

Content includes:

  • Brief introduction of mechanistic niche models used in ecology with an overview of the models within NichMapR package
  • Demonstration of the microclimate model apps with periodic pauses to explain different parts of the model (basic soil temperature, radiation environments, and air/wind/relative humidity profiles, soil moisture, and snow)
  • Use shiny apps and work in the R environment – troubleshoot any set-up errors for NicheMapR within the RStudio environment (we request this is done prior to the workshop). Here we will have a competition for those working to find the highest and lowest soil surface temperature situations to familiarise themselves with the microclimate output.
  • Ectotherm model and endotherm model overviews – demonstration of the shiny apps interspersed with slides explaining basic heat budget for an ectotherm and an endotherm; water loss and leaf model example
  • Working with R and individual data – allow people to work with their data, and we help troubleshoot
  • For those interested, we will discuss using microclimate grids and how to run data across a grid to produce a map.

Workshop: Ecological Time Series Analysis and Forecasting in R

Friday 13 December 2024
09:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Venue: University of Melbourne

Participation fee: $45 inc GST
includes morning tea

Organiser: Nicholas Clark

Time series analysis and forecasting are standard goals in applied ecology. In this course, you will learn how to wrangle, visualise and explore ecological time series. You will also learn to use the {mvgam} and {brms} packages to analyse a diversity of ecological time series to gain useful insights and produce accurate forecasts.

This workshop will cover:

  • Introduction to time series and time series visualization
  • Generalised LInear Models (GLMs) and hierarchial models (GLMMs)
  • Generalized Additive Modela (GAMs) for nonlinear effects and complex random effects
  • Dynamic GLMs and Dynamic GAMs
  • Multivariate modeling strategies
  • Forecasting and forecast evaluation

This workshop is aimed at higher degree and early career ecologists who are interested in making better predictions with their statistical models. The strategies to be covered are extendable well beyond time series and participants will leave this workshop with a better understanding of strategies to capture the types of complex, nonlinear effects that dominate ecological data.


Workshop: Nature Writing

Friday 13 December 2024
10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Venue: The University of Melbourne

Participation fee: $35 inc GST
Includes morning tea and lunch

Organiser: Kirsten Parris

This workshop is open to any interested ecologist who would like to explore non-academic forms of nature writing. It will introduce participants to the conventions of the short story and creative non-fiction, and include dedicated writing sessions. This workshop is an official activity of the Science Communication Research Chapter of the ESA.

Content includes:

  • Introduction – why write about nature?
  • Types of nature writing
  • Writing session 1 – Fiction
  • Lunch break
  • Writing session 2 – Non-fiction
  • Next steps – Establishing your own writing practice

Workshop: Capturing Conservation – Lessons in taking and using images for conservation advocacy and action

Friday 13 December 2024
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Venue: University of Melbourne

Participation fee: $45 inc GST

Organisers: Douglas Gimesy and Meghan Shaw

This workshop will assist participants to develop a better understanding of how they can use their camera and social media profiles to advocate for the work they do, and the wildlife they protect.

Participants will gain a better understanding of:

  • what to consider and how to capture impactful wildlife and in-field research photographs
  • best evidence-based practice for the use of wildlife and in-field research photographs when posting on social media

Content to include:

  • Exploration of why images are so powerful
  • An examination of what features and characteristics (both in photo construction and use ) can help produce images with greatest conservation impact
  • Discussion of the lessons learnt in recent research on using images with wildlife for conservation and advocacy
  • Review a range of images and social media posts submitted anonomously by participants

Who should attend? Anyone who takes, authorises or uses images that include wildlife.