Modelling Patterns and Dynamics of Species Occurrence

The presence or absence of a species across a set of landscape units is a fundamental concept widely used in ecology (e.g. in studies of species range or distribution, epidemiology, habitat modelling, resource selection probability functions, meta-population dynamics, biodiversity and environmental monitoring). A common problem, however, is that species are not always detected when present at a landscape unit. This will result in "false absences" causing parameter estimates to be biased if unaccounted for, possibly leading to misleading results and conclusions, even with moderate levels of imperfect detection.

This workshop will cover many of the latest methods for modelling patterns and dynamics of species occurrence while accounting for the imperfect detection of the species. Participants will be introduced to available software through worked examples, and there will be special emphasis on aspects of study design.

This course was completed in September 2010

Course content:

  • single-season occupancy models for patterns in species occurrence
  • multiple-season occupancy models for dynamics of species occurrence
  • study design and it's influence on the interpretation of "occupancy"
  • species co-occurrence models
  • community-level applications
  • multi-state occupancy models
  • integrated modeling of habitat and species occurrence dynamics

Computer software:

Participants must bring their own laptop computer that is capable of running Windows-based software. Please download and install PRESENCE 3.0, GENPRES and OpenBUGS before attending the course.


The course instructors have co-authored the book ‘Occupancy Estimation and Modeling’ (Academic Press, 2006), which in part forms the basis for the course.

  • Darryl I. MacKenzie, Proteus Wildlife Research Consultants, New Zealand
  • James D. Nichols, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, USA
  • James E. Hines, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, USA


The workshop will take place in the course and conference unit of Finse Alpine Research Centre. See information about the centre here.

Pre-course in Statistical Estimation Methods:

An optional “pre-course” in Statistical Estimation Methods, introducing both maximum-likelihood methods and Bayesian MCMC methods, will be given at the centre 10-11 September (arrival on the 9th). Instructors: Trond Reitan, T. Andreas Lindén and Torbjørn Ergon, University of Oslo.

Glacier hike:

On 12 September, there will be an offer to join a guided tour on the Hardangerjøkulen glacier organized by Jøklagutane AS. The hike takes 5-7 hours and costs 490 NOK (approx. 60 €), including insurance and equipment rental (crampons, ice axe, helmet and harness) - payment by cash or credit card directly to the guides on the day of the hike. You must wear/bring wind proof clothing (rain proof if raining), a hat/hood, gloves or mittens and sturdy hiking boots. We will start walking around 9-10 am, so if you want to take part, you will have to travel to Finse the day before (unless you participate in the pre-course).

Time table:

Thursday 9/9 Arrival for participants of the pre-course. Evening social.
Friday 10/9 - Saturday 11/9 Pre-course in statistical estimation methods.
Sunday 12/9 Optional glacier hike (participants must be at the station the day before). Arrival for participants that do not attend the pre-course.
Monday 13/9 - Friday 17/9 Main workshop. The course will finish around noon on Friday, in time to take the 12:54 train to Oslo (12:25 or 15:26 to Bergen).

To plan meals, we would like to know your time of arrival and departure - please let us know as soon as possible by filling in this online form.

Program and material:

  • A program outline for the main workshop is available here.
  • Lecture notes for the main workshop are available in a zip-file here (you may want to print out and hard copies).
  • Other material will be provided on a local wireless network during the course.

There will be a morning and an afternoon session every day, with a two hour break in the middle of the day. Bring hiking boots and good outdoor clothing!


Participants will be housed at the research centre in rooms with two or four beds (special arrangements may be requested). Accommodation and all meals are included in the registration fee. Bed sheets will be provided, but if you want to save us from the laundry, you may bring your own (we have only one washing machine). You may want to bring a large towel for the sauna.

Alternatively, participants may book rooms at the hotel Finse 1222 or the hostel DNT Finsehytta 2 km from the research centre.

Participation fees:

The course is organized as a Nordic Research Training Course Funded by NordForsk. PhD-students and postdoctoral researchers in the Nordic countries participate for free and get travel costs reimbursed. PhD-students outside the Nordic countries will also be sponsored, but must pay for accommodation and meals.

Registration fees including accommodation and all meals*:

  Pre-course in Statistical Estimation Methods, 10 - 11 Sept. Modelling Patterns and Dynamics of Species Occurrence, 12 - 17 Sept.
PhD-students and post-docs in the Nordic countries: FREE FREE
PhD-students outside the Nordic countries: 1767 NOK (approx. 221 €) 3364 NOK (approx. 421 €)
Others: 1767 NOK (approx. 221 €) 7400 NOK (approx. 930 €)
Glacier trek on 12 September (including equipment and insurance): NOK 490 (approx. 60 €), payment by cash or credit card to the guides on the day of the hike

*: Participants arranging their own accomodation will get a discount of 75 NOK per night, and a deduction per meal according to the price list (lunch should be taken at the research center).


Even though we cover all travel costs for PhD-students and post-docs in the Nordic countries we prefer that all participants arrange their own travel, and either submit a refund claim after the course (if you have paid for the tickets privately) or send an invoice to the invoice address given below (if your department has paid for the tickets). Please let us know if you or your department can not cover your tickets in advance, and we can arrange your tickets for you.

The invoice address is:

Universitetet i Oslo
Sentralt fakturamottak
Postboks 1074 Blindern
0316 Oslo

The centre can only be accessed by train from Bergen (2.5 hours) or Oslo (4.5 hours). Buy tickets at the Norwegian State Railways website (NB! Cheaper 'minipris' tickets tickets when purchasing on-line some time in advance). The research centre is located about 1.5 km to the east of the train station, see map here. If you fly in to Oslo Airport at Gardermoen you can catch a train with the NSB directly from Gardermoen (alternatively, take the airport express train, Flytoget, to Oslo S and get on the train to Finse there (Bergen line)). If you fly in to Bergen, take the airport bus to the train station in the city center.


Participants that are not sponsored in full will be contacted by e-mail.


The course qualifies for the European Credit Transfer Scheme. Students should contact their local student administration before attending the course (there will be no exam or other evaluations and we do not give any home assignments).


The course is full and registration is now closed.


A list of registered participants are available here.


This course is a Nordic Research Training Course Funded by NordForsk. The course is organised in collaboration between Finse Alpine Research Centre and Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis at the University of Oslo, with help from Proteus Wildlife Research Consultants and USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.

  • Torbjørn Ergon, Principle organizer, Finse Alpine Research Centre
  • Jayne Lambrou, Administrator, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis, University of Oslo
  • Erika Leslie, Accommodation and catering logistics, Finse Alpine Research Centre

Course evaluation:


Published Apr. 7, 2010 3:43 PM - Last modified Jan. 21, 2022 10:39 AM