What if we, akin to weather maps, could forecast the dynamics of wildlife populations?
That dream is now about to come true. A new international project led by NMBU will link ecological knowledge, big data and statistical calculations together in a completely new way.
Space and time uncertainties
'How many carnivores will we have in the future?’
‘What happens if ...?’
“These are common questions asked by wildlife researchers and managers alike,” NMBU researcher Richard Bischof says.
"We have learned a lot about predators, but still have a very limited understanding about the dynamics of their populations in space and time.”
Bischof is spearheading a new project that will remedy this.
"New methods, will put us in a position to better understand today's dynamics and make forecasts for the future.
New maps and estimates of future populations
The project relies on nearly two decades-worth of monitoring data on wolverine, wolf and brown bear across Norway and Sweden. The project’s four main goals are:
- Overcome the computational barriers to large-scale mapping of population dynamics.
- Identify general rules for efficient wildlife monitoring at the level of landscapes and populations.
- Quantify spatio-temporal patterns in population dynamics and their drivers at multiple scales.
- Generate spatially-explicit forecasts of wildlife population dynamics under alternative scenarios.
In order to reach their ambitious goals, the researchers will combine new methods in ecological analysis with computational tools that can handle the processing of massive amounts of information and can perform millions of calculations.
"The project will change the way we view and quantify wildlife populations and their dynamics," Bischof concludes.