Tuesday, December 6, 2011
I'm fortunate enough to be down in Auckland NZ this week for the International Congress on Conservation Biology. This is the first of the new bi-annual format meetings of the Society for Conservation Biology. So far, I've not been blown away by anything, but its fun to catch up with people. I've run into alot of people from my time in Oz, which is harder to do at conferences in North America. There was a good session yesterday on modelling future responses to climate change, which, for once, included a talk that expressed some skepticism of the utility of static species distribution models for this purpose (John Leathwick, NIWA). Walter Jetz (Yale), gave a remote talk describing his labs work on building models of every bird species on the planet - bold stuff (see www.mappinglife.org). There was some talk of testing predictions from these models, but no discussion of how much accuracy is enough, or of what these models would be used for. Luckily, I also saw Helen Regan's (UC Santa Barbara) talk where she laid a stochastic population model on top of climate affected future habitat distributions. That was sufficient antidote to residual frustration from earlier in the day. Although I worry about using downscaled point predictions of climate in this way - the uncertainty in these predictions is huge.