Welcome & landscape

David L Miller & Jason J Roberts


Who are we?

David L Miller (Dave)

  • Research fellow, CREEM, University of St Andrews
  • PhD with Simon Wood (author of mgcv)
  • Worked on R distance sampling (software) since 2005
  • Author/maintainer of Distance, mrds, dsm, readst, mmds

Jason Roberts

  • Research associate, MGEL, Duke University
  • Software engineer at Microsoft before coming to Duke
  • Author of MGET toolbox for ArcGIS
  • Taught numerous workshops on GIS and habitat modeling

Who are you?

What is this course about?

What is this course about?

  • Building practical spatial models using R and ArcGIS
  • Getting data out of ArcGIS and into R
  • Distance sampling detection functions
  • Spatial modelling with GAMs
  • Model checking
  • Predictions and visualisation

What is this course not about?

  • Basic statistics
  • Basic R
  • Basic ArcGIS
  • Survey design
  • “Advanced” techniques


Get you to be able to build, check and use DSMs

Schedule & landscape

  1. Modelling detectability
  2. Spatial data in ArcGIS
  3. Spatial models in R (and how to check them)
  4. Getting and using appropriate covariates
  5. Making and visualising predictions

Daily schedule

Course materials

Asking questions

In real life

  • Ask questions!
  • Throw up you hand or yell :)


Sticky notes

  • At the end of each session
    • Green: one thing that went well
    • Red: one thing that went poorly
  • Want to check how our teaching is going
  • Need to expand on a topic?



  • We'll use ArcGIS and RStudio
  • If you have your own copies make correct software is installed:
    • Instructions on course site
    • We can help (but want to prioritise teaching)
  • Computer classroom already set up

Let's get started...