Spatially explicit capture–recapture course

Venue: Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, Melbourne

Dates: 8–11 May 2017

Cost: AU$800 (AU$850 after 31 March)

Instructors: Murray Efford, Joanne Potts, Gurutzeta Guillera-Arroita

Spatially explicit capture-recapture (SECR) modelling is used for estimating animal population density and related parameters. The method combines a spatial population model and a spatial (distance-dependent) detection model. SECR has been used extensively in wildlife ecology for the analysis of data from conventional traps, DNA hair snags and automatic cameras. It is the subject of a recent text (Royle et al. 2014) and statistical review (Borchers and Fewster 2016).

In this 4-day workshop we aim to give participants a practical understanding of SECR and its application through the experience of fitting models with the R package secr. Topics to be covered include

  • concepts and assumptions underlying SECR
  • data preparation and checking
  • model fitting and evaluation
  • study design

Advanced topics will be included on request (e.g., model robustness, linear habitats, modelling spatial and temporal trend, mark-resight methods, incorporating data from telemetry, reciprocal variation of home-range size and density, non-Euclidean distance metrics). 

Participants should have some experience of capture–recapture methods and be confident users of R. Time will be allocated for attendees to work on their own data or with example data provided.

Participants will be expected to bring their own laptop computer and to arrange their own accommodation. Lunch will be provided.


Please contact Murray Efford at to express your interest. The course is limited to 30 participants. Formal registration will open in mid-February, and payment will be required by the end of March. Late registrations will be accepted if places are available.

About the instructors

The workshop will be led by Dr Murray Efford of the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. Murray is a population ecologist with long experience in live-trapping studies. He has recently focused on developing spatially explicit capture–recapture methods and acoustic methods for assessing bird populations. He is the author of the Windows software ‘Density’ and the R package ‘secr’, and has presented SECR workshops in New Zealand, Malaysia, UK, France, and Canada.

Dr Joanne Potts is a consultant statistician based in Hobart, and works on a wide range of topics in ecological statistics. In her PhD from the University of St Andrews (Scotland), she developed abundance estimation methods based on spatial capture–recapture and distance-sampling theory, and applied these methods to an endangered rodent in the U.S.

Dr Gurutzeta Guillera-Arroita is a lecturer in ecological modelling at the University of Melbourne. Her research interests include site occupancy and species distribution modelling, with an emphasis on issues derived from imperfect detection and survey design.


Borchers, D. L. and Fewster, R. M. (2016)  Spatial capture–recapture models. Statistical Science  31: 219–232.

Royle, J. A., Chandler, R. B., Sollmann, R. and Gardner, B. (2014) Spatial capture–recapture. Academic Press.

[See here for other papers]

University of Otago DENSITY: software for spatially explicit capture-recapture