Species Distribution Modeling Software Survey

Those of you who work with species distribution models might want to take this survey about the software we used to do the modelling. The ecologists at Microsoft Research in Cambridge want to know. The survey closes on July 1st, and only takes 5 minutes.

I’m guessing that they’re thinking about how to develop software for SDMs, and want to know how to do it so that it’s not a waste of time. For what it’s worth, I do my work in R and OpenBUGS, but I’m not a normal SDMer. So if you want something useful to come out of this, do the survey and dilute my answer!

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Scientist, poet, gadfly
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3 Responses to Species Distribution Modeling Software Survey

  1. Amélie VANISCOTTE says:

    Hi, I am sceptical concerning this offer to gently help Microsoft to produce a "private" software for SDMs that open the door for press-buton modelling and propagation of modelling and prediction errors. All tools ready to use are already in R, isn’t it enough? What can a software bring more?

  2. Bob O'Hara says:

     Hi, Amélie!
    This is being done by Microsoft Research, which isn’t the same as the evil Micro empire. I haven’t talked to the guys about it, but my guess it that they’re developing their own methods, and will be pretty good about releasing them.
    Having written that, I agree using R should be enough, so I hope the decision will be to put everything into R, as a package.

  3. Greg McInerny says:

    Hi Amelie and Bob, Just to respond to your comments… (thank you for the post BOB!)
    Firstly… is R enough?
    Not everyone uses R, so is it enough? The newest SDM platforms being built (e.g. ModEco, OpenModeller) aren’t in R, and there are things you can’t do in R.
    Don’t get me wrong, I love R, but I don’t use it for everything. Similarly I don’t use Visual Studio and Processing for everything, there are some tasks that they can’t do in the way I want it to, so I use R instead! Or something else!
    The suitability of the software does depend on the task and, via the survey, we simply want to know what is behind such decisions.
    I hope you’ll participate in the survey, we’d love to include your experience and opinions!
    Secondly… for Amelie… why is Microsoft Research employing ecologists?
    Firstly we are Ecologists (lots of experimental work and filed work under our belts as well as modelling!) and we publish in the places everyone else does. You can see our work here.
    It is indeed novel for Ecologists to be working at Microsoft Research, and our group’s mission is quite tightly linked to the survey. Quite simply, software enables science! And so, software can also constrain science! Can you ask every scientific question you want to? And develop those questions how you want to? I can’t! At present…
    In our group we are investigating new scientific directions and software for those tasks don’t necessarily exist. So we need to make that software and we want to make it freely available. Putting the effort into making that software user friendly, and ultimately allowing people to get creative with that software to do something even newer, means that we need to know what people use and why.
    This is a small nutshell, but hope I’ve squeezed my answer in! But please keep the conversation going if you have any questions! I am an Ecologist and I find our being at MSR interesting! Also, please have a look round our web site, we do some really interesting stuff….
    PS, I wouldn’t normally encourage people to dilute Bob’s thoughts but in this case please take the survey!

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