Unveiling distribution of large pelagics in the Mediterranean Sea

Species distribution models (SDMs) are a powerful analytical approach, widely used to characterize species' spatial and temporal variability as a function of their environmental preferences. They can highlight core areas of distribution to guide conservation actions.  

These models are widely used for terrestrial, freshwater and marine organisms, but often data comes from monitoring surveys or transects, resulting in presence/absence observations with a specific standardization. The main issue for highly mobile species and top predators is addressing these kinds of surveys or retrieving presence-absence data, resulting in mainly presence-only information, often scattered in time and space. Information about the presence of large predators mostly comes from opportunistic sightings, which, if well used and combined with citizen science activities, can represent a powerful data source to keep track of their distribution, abundance trends, and habitat use. 

During this Professional Practice, the student will be involved in: getting input on how to collect data from various sources, build a database of occurrences, and how to fill possible gaps in these data. Then, the student will be able to carry out an exploratory analysis and species distribution models in R with different approaches, in order to highlight patterns of occurrences of pelagic and elusive species in the Mediterranean Sea. 

Specific competences required : 
a basic knowledge of statistics is appreciated. Also, basic knowledge of R Software.
Additional costs to be covered by the student: 
COVID-19 contingency plan: 
Should the on-site training be still prevented by actual pandemic conditions, the student will be provided with weekly tasks and the student will have to produce written reports on RMarkdown or PowerPoint presentations.