Species Distribution Modelling Using Occupancy and Habitat Mapping 

Tuesday April 28, 2020
8:30 am - 4:00 pmEc
Nita Lake Lodge, 2131 Lake Placid Rd, Whistler BC

Sponsored in part by:


Click here to register for the Species Distribution Modelling Workshop

Early registration discount for APB members and group rate at Nita Lake Lodge end March 28, 2020!


The aim of this workshop is to help biologists expand their skills in spatial analysis for the purpose of creating species distribution models. Exercises will be organized to progress from simple to more complex so participants can work at their own pace. Our key instructor will provide background context on the theory that applies to SDMs, such as occupancy modelling. Two co-instructors (highly experienced in QGIS, ArcGIS, and R-scripting) will also be present to assist and answer questions as we work through the theory, exercises, and learn how to advance your skill-sets in the growing field of SDMs and spatial statistics.


This workshop will include a copy of MacLeod (2019) "An Introduction to Species Distribution Modelling (SDM) Using QGIS And R". The workbook provides an introduction to conducting a species distribution modelling SDM project using QGIS (the leading open-source GIS software package) and R (the leading open source data analysis software package) for spatial analysis. It provides five exercises which will introduce you to the basic spatial processing and analytical techniques required to create a biologically meaningful species distribution model (SDM).  

Taken together, these exercises allow you to work through an example of an SDM from processing your survey data and making raster data layers of environmental variables to constructing an SDM, visualising its predicted spatial distribution and validating its predictive ability. The exercises are designed to be followed in the order they are presented, and work with a specific data set which can be downloaded from

Working through these five exercises will help the user obtain experience in creating SDM using QGIS and R, and provide them with the confidence to apply these skills to their own research. These exercises are presented in an easy-to-follow flow diagram-based format accompanied by images which show the user how their GIS project should look as they progress through the exercises, allowing them to compare their own work to the expected results.

A webpage to accompany the workbooks in this series can be found here.



Leah Andresen, MSc.
Senior Wildlife Biologist & Biostatistician
Keefer Ecological Services Ltd.

Ms. Leah Andresen is an expert in population biology and ecology of terrestrial mammals. She has published a number studies that have involved various aspects of modelling for site occupancy, spatially explicit capture–recapture, population simulations, and species distribution mapping for ungulates, carnivores, lagomorphs and raptors. Some of her recent work has involved monitoring and occurrence of Collared Pika in Tombstone Territorial Park (central Yukon, Canada) as an indicator species for climate change. In Africa, Leah developed and managed a transboundary conservation project to improve prospects for large carnivore species at risk of extinction.

Teaching assistants:

Holly Buehler, MSc.
Geographic Information Systems and Mapping Specialist
EcoLogic Environmental Consultants

Mark Thompson, MSc, RPBio
Senior Biologist
EcoLogic Environmental Consultants / President of the APB

Who Should Attend

This is a professional workshop that will help novice to intermediate users of R QGIS software develop applied skills and competency in species distribution modelling. Everyone welcome.

What You Should Bring

Participants are encouraged to bring a laptop computer pre-loaded with R and QGIS software. Contact if instructions are needed.


  • Basic knowledge of statistics
  • Basic R knowledge is helpful but not necessary
  • More detailed software requirements can be found here


Registration Includes
  • Workbook
  • Buffet lunch and coffee break refreshments


Register Today


The APB is pleased to host this workshop in conjunction with our 2020 Annual Professional Biology Conference and AGM in beautiful Whistler April 28-29 2020.   Visit our Conference Webpage for more information on the full event or download the 2020 APB Conference Program (includes workshop registration fee information).

Everyone welcome! You may register for one or more conference program items even if you're not an APB member or not attending the full conference.

Click here to register for the Species Distribution Modelling Workshop

Early registration discount for APB members and group rate at Nita Lake Lodge end March 28, 2020! APB members can save up to $140 on workshop registration + discounts for student and retired members. Become an APB member prior to registering to receive the member rates.

Registration closes April 22.