Ecologists launch off-the-chart data analysis service with OUTLIER

The delivery of specialised ecological and environmental data services through the University of Adelaide has been streamlined through the creation of OUTLIER, a new unit aimed at providing statistical support to industry and government.

For many environmental monitoring projects, statistical analysis of data collected ends up being done in the final hour, haphazardly or with minimal statistical guidance. Protocols and conclusions may end up in reports without expert evaluation. Yet with proper statistical support, these datasets can potentially have a massive impact on evidence-based decision-making.

Statistical design, analysis and review services aimed at environmental and ecological data have come together for more streamlined delivery at the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute, with the formation of the OUTLIER Ecological Data Unit. Researchers experienced in statistics and quantitative ecology for terrestrial and marine habitats help industry to negotiate what can be a statistical quagmire, and boost confidence in environmental decision-making.

According to OUTLIER director, Dr Greg Guerin, “The University has world-class expertise in ecological statistics that underpins a range of research programs. The idea behind OUTLIER is to make that expertise available beyond university walls, so that government agencies and industry can make robust decisions based on the data, which is what evidence-based environmental management is all about.”

Statistical review could become a standard practice in environmental decision-making, just as peer-review precedes publication of research articles, ensuring that robust methods are selected, and interpretations are justified.

“Ideally, the stats you run at the end are planned from the start, so statistical principles are integrated with sampling design and measurement protocols. Legacy datasets can be evaluated and often re-purposed too.”

OUTLIER draws upon a pool of experts across marine and terrestrial systems, who use a wide range of analytical techniques for sampling design, statistical modelling, and statistical review.

Visit OUTLIER online for more information or contact OUTLIER directly via Dr Greg Guerin to find out how numerical rigour can be incorporated into a project.

Article supplied by Dr Greg Guerin.

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