Understanding Statistics and Decision-Making for Natural Resource Managers

  • Start Date: May 08, 2024
  • End Date: June 26, 2024
  • Time: 9am to 11am Pacific
  • City: Online via Zoom
  • Instructor: Dr. Joseph Thorley
  • This course runs on Wednesdays, eight of them in total.

Course description

This eight-week online course is for natural resource managers who have to interpret the results of statistical analyses and make decisions about how much data to collect and which management actions to undertake.

The course focuses on the fundamentals of uncertainty, modeling, effect sizes, decision theory and the value of information. It does not require a statistical background and doesn’t involve any modeling although different types of results are presented and discussed.

It will require participants to spend an extra ~2 hours a week reading or watching recommended material. The course will be interactive and include discussion as well as mentimeter quizzes.

This course, back by popular demand, is the less advanced introduction to the Joe’s summer-long Bayesian Study Group (read about that offering here.)

The Student Page is here. The password is provided to all registrants via email about one week prior to the course. This page will provide all course materials needed including course recordings for a limited period of time.


Course outline

Week 1

Quantifying Uncertainty (using probability)

Week 2

Identifying Information (data and prior information)

Week 3

Understanding Statistical Models (as tools for making logical inferences in the face of uncertainty)

Week 4

Summarizing Uncertainty (using effect sizes vs significance)

Week 5

Considering Causality (dealing with pipes, forks and collider bias)

Week 6

Making Decisions (in the face of uncertainty using decision theory)

Week 7

Identifying Management Objectives (that people care about)

Week 8

Designing Studies (that provide value)


Our instructor

Dr. Joseph Thorley, R.P.Bio. is a Senior Computation Biologist at Poisson Consulting Ltd. He has been programming in R and C++ for over 20 years and has co-authored over 25 peer-reviewed papers. He consults for industrial, governmental, conservation and first-nations organizations. Prior to forming Poisson Consulting in 2007, he worked for the Scottish Government as a fisheries biologist for three years.

Joe is a celebrated and much admired instructor who has supported the CMI audience for many years. If he had the capacity to teach more that he already does, CMI would book up all of his time!


Preparation and what to bring

You’ll need a stable internet connection and your own working computer equip with video camera and a speaker/mic adequate enough to clearly communicate via the Zoom video conferencing platform. More info on system requirements for Zoom can be found here.

We recommend that students have two screens as this makes it much easier to follow the zoom activity while also performing course tasks.

What is included with this course?
Participants will be provided with access to an online website summarizing the material covered.



Members:  $535*

Non-members:  $580

Limited class size of 15 people, register immediately to secure your spot.

*Memberships may be purchased/renewed while you register. More about membership here.

Course is now full. 

Note: If you don’t secure a seat in the course you can sign up for the cancellation list by emailing Hailey at office@cmiae.org



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

Mailing Address

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