Occupancy Modelling

  • Start Date: February 11, 2020
  • End Date: February 13, 2020
  • Time: Tues & Wed: 12:30pm-6:30pm, Thu: 8:30am-4:00pm
  • City: Revelstoke, BC
  • Venue: Revelstoke School District 19 Board Room, 501 11 St, Revelstoke, BC V0E 2S0
  • Instructor: Dr. Carl Schwarz
  • This is a winter course, in case of poor roads alternate dates have been selected, see below for details


Course Description

The presence or absence of a species in a set of units (polygons, landscape units, territories, etc.) is a fundamental concept in many ecological studies (e.g. resource selection modelling, biodiversity, range). Visits to sampled units can results in a positive detection of a species or a non-detection of the species in that unit. However, a species may not always be detected if present which results in “false negatives”. If the issue of detectablity is not accounted for, estimates that rely on the level of occupancy can be misleading. This workshop covers methods for modelling species occurrence while accounting for potential false negatives.

Bring: Laptop computer pre-loaded with software (see below)


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


Our surveys continually tell us that our members want these courses in February! As this course takes place in the winter there is always the chance that the highways to Revelstoke could close for avalanche control.  Should the roads close for an extended period of time on Feb 10, or the morning of Feb 11th we will consider bumping the course ahead one day to Feb 12-14, 2020.  As such please block off this whole chunk of time when planning for this course.


Also, it seems that our members love to ski!  So we’re sticking to a schedule that allows you to ski in the morning before the first two days of the course.  We’ll set it up such that you can purchase half-day lift tickets from Revelstoke Mountain Resort with your registration for use in the mornings of Feb 11 and 12 (normally, a half-day ticket is only available for the afternoons). This option will be arranged via email closer to the course date.


PHOTO: Revelstoke Ski Club members, circa 1891. Revelstoke Museum & Archives photo #1066

Course outline


  • differences/similarities of occupancy and capture-recapture modelling
  • role of detectability
  • basic statistical review
    • concepts and notations
    • binomial data, odds ratios
    • basic likelihood
    • model selection and multi-model inference

Single-season occupancy models

  • basic sampling protocol
  • PRESENCE/ RPresence/ MARK/ RMark software to fitting single-season models
  • model assumptions
  • dealing with missing data
  • dealing with heterogeneity
  • more advanced features of PRESENCE/ RPresence/ MARK/ RMark – design matrices/covariates
  • planning studies; GENPRES software

Multiple-season occupancy models

  • sampling protocol
  • dynamics of population across seasons
  • using PRESENCE/ RPresence/ MARK/ RMark
  • alternative parameterizations
  • characterizing occupancy dynamics
  • modelling spatial correlations in occupancy dynamics
  • dealing with missing data
  • dealing with covariates
  • study design

Species co-occurrence models

  • sharing information among species
  • species richness or biodiversity
  • single season models
  • multi season models


  • incorporation of count data
  • incorporation of marked animals
  • incorporation of telemetry data


SchwarzDr. Carl Schwarz, Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science, Simon Fraser University. Carl has taught  many courses with CMI, and is back by popular request! Carl won the SSC Award for Impact of Applied and Collaborative Work 2017.




Preparation for the course

About 2 weeks before the course you will be sent a web link where you can download pre-reading, a course manual, a set of practice exercises to load on your computer before the class.

You will need to bring your own laptop pre-loaded with the required software and downloaded files.

Consider bringing along an external monitor and an external keyboard if you have a small laptop.



Registration includes catered breaks provided by La Baguette and there is an option to add in bagged lunches for $13/day. The food is delicious and the portions are generous.

CMI Member: $675.00*

Non-member:  $720.00

*NOTE: You can purchase your $40 membership at the same time as you register.  See more about membership here.

Registration is full. To be added to wait list email Hailey at office@cmiae.org


Where to stay?

We have set up a room-block at the Stoke Hotel with a special room rate of $109.99 + tax / night, includes continental breakfast, and new outdoor hot tub. Rooms held as long as their is availability so be sure to book your room ASAP as February is a very busy time of year in Revelstoke. To receive this rate you must call the hotel directly at 1-877-837-5221 and state that you are with the “CMI group.” This hotel is located across on the west side of the highway but is still an easy walking distance to the college.  Ask them to direct you to the river-side path that will take you under the highway bridge.





  • Phone 250-837-9311
  • Fax 250-837-9311
  • Email

Mailing Address

  • P.O. Box 2568
  • Revelstoke, British Columbia V0E 2S0
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