We are excited to announce the workshops running at this year’s Festival of Ecology.

Workshops are interactive sessions encouraging networking, skills development, and creative thinking. All workshops will be live.

Please note, you do not need to pre-book workshops, on the day you simply need to join the session at the correct time. The only exception is the Early Careers Day – delegates will be sent a pre-booking form for this event.

Amplicon sequence data for microbiomes: 2-part workshop
Rachael Antwis, University of Salford 
Xavier Harrison, University of Exeter 

Part 1: There are a bamboozling number of options when it comes to analysing microbiome amplicon sequence data – from the initial decision about which pipeline to choose, through to various decisions about how to “clean” and normalise your data throughout. This two-part workshop brought to you by the Microbial Ecology SIG aims to illuminate some of the choices you can make and why. In this first part, we will cover the initial choice of platforms (e.g. QIIME, dada2, mothur) and databases (e.g. SILVA, Greengenes, RDP, UNITE, NCBI), and then move on to some decisions about data cleaning, such as the removal of rare reads. This will relate primarily to 16S rRNA gene sequence data but could also be applied to ITS or other markers. 

Part 2: Having discussed the broad suite of analytical pipelines available to researchers in Part 1, the second part of this workshop will let you get hands-on with some methods we use to normalise data (e.g. relative abundance, rarefaction and log ratio transformations), to calculate and visualise beta-diversity in samples. We will share a phyloseq object and script for you to work through during this session, which may require some existing knowledge of R, although it will also be possible to also follow on screen and then work through the mini-tutorial in your own time. 

Analysing multivariate ecological data with Generalized Linear Latent Variable Models2-part workshop
Bert van der Veen, Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research 
Robert B. O’Hara, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Sam Perrin, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Jenni Niku, University of Jyväskylä

Participants in this workshop will learn how to explore co-occurrence patterns in species distributions, using a modeling framework that combines the best of ordination methods and Joint Species Distribution Models. This framework, Generalized Linear Latent Variable Models (GLLVMs), unifies classical community and species distribution modelling. On both days, the workshop will cover basic theory around GLLVMs, and provide hands-on experience with examples and exercises using the R-package “gllvm”. 

Part 1: We will focus on performing model-based ordination with GLLVMs, and outline the connection with classical ordination methods such as PCA and CA. We will demonstrate how to use model-based ordination to make inferences about species communities. 

Part 2: We will focus on using GLLVMs as Joint Species Distribution Models. We will demonstrate how to produce maps from predictions made using GLLVMs, and how to infer species associations from these models. We will shortly outline how the methods we present can be extended in the R-package “HMSC”. 

Connecting via social media for science communication
Dani Rabaiotti, ZSL Institute of Zoology
Steph Januchowski-Hartley, Sêr Cymru Fellow, Swansea University
Mike Whitfield, New Phytologist Trust 

Terrified by Twitter? Flummoxed by Facebook? Seeking an extra boost for your science via social? We’ll introduce different social media platforms and tips and tricks for getting the most from them. Participants will have the chance to build and enhance their social media profile; learn about communicating their science to other scientists, the public, and the media; and create some games. You’ll leave equipped with tools to get the most out of #BES2020 and communicate your science effectively on social media! 

 Twitter handles:

Ecology education post COVID-19: from emergency online teaching to the development of a new ‘normal’
Lesley Batty, University of Birmingham 
Nicholas Worsfold, Brunel University London 

The current pandemic has led to a significant increase in the use of virtual learning environments but teaching ecology online presents significant challenges. This workshop will explore how educators can effectively engage off-campus students with ecology and will discuss the good-practice that has emerged since March 2020. The workshop will be structured around two themes: field and practical work, and student participation and inclusivity. Working in teams we will think through the stages of creating engaging online environments, providing participants with the skills and knowledge for creating their own materials. 

Ecology for society: understanding and engaging with policy
Hannah Grist, Scottish Policy Group/Scottish Association for Marine Science Research Services 
Isabel Jones, Scottish Policy Group/University of Stirling 

This workshop will provide a hands-on introduction to engaging policymakers with ecological science. Participants will have the opportunity to learn more about how science can influence policy from experts in the field. Tools to effectively communicate science to a policy audience will be outlined, with the opportunity for participants to explore ways these tools can be used to communicate and connect their own research with policymakers. 

Efficient and reproducible data analysis in R
Tania Maxwell, INRAE, Université de Bordeaux, Université Laval 
Lukas Weilguny, European Bioinformatics Institute 

Field work / Lab work results → data table → R → writing. How can we make this workflow more efficient and reproducible? We’ll go over the basics of RMarkdown, how to think about your data in R using the tidyverse, and some structures of functional programming. This workshop is intended for anyone with previous experience with the R programming language and is curious and motivated to improve their data analysis and documentation workflow.  

Mindful science for ecologists: towards a more productive, creative and happier scientific life
na Pineda, I focus and write & Research Institute CIBIO, University of Alicante (Spain) 

Scientists around the world are using mindful practices as a strategy for well-being to deal with issues such as stress or anxiety. But a not so explored aspect is how we can incorporate mindfulness in our work as scientists. Adding mindful techniques into our daily research life can help ecologists (and other scientists) to be more productive, more creative, and happier. In this workshop we’ll explore 1) a holistic approach to the work-life “puzzle”; 2) research as a creative process and the effect of stress; 3) how practicing mindfulness can improve our productivity and mindset around being a scientist. 

Talking transdisciplinarity – how to achieve research impact through user engagement in cross-sectoral teams
Alexandre Chausson, University of Oxford 
Lydia Cole, University of St Andrews 

Achieving impact from environmental science is no easy task! It requires engagement with the research users at every stage of the project, and a commitment to adopting transdisciplinary ways of working. However, the individual abilities needed to effectively work in these ways can be difficult to acquire or develop on the job. This workshop will focus on the best ways to improve these key skills and competencies, discussing several methods of best practice that help to establish truly collaborative partnerships for knowledge co-production across disciplines and sectors. 

Career Development Programme

The teams at the British Ecological Society will provide a variety of training sessions, network events and panel discussions throughout the conference where you can develop new skills and to help develop your career.

Building resilience in uncertain times
Karen Devine, Head of External Affairs
Andrea Baier, Director of Publishing

How do we build and maintain our resilience when our research is not being heard if we work in areas at the science/ policy interface and research/practitioner interface?  What can we do when our papers are not accepted, grants not funded and how do we balance this alongside the complex day to day demands on our own time and that of those we are seeking to influence?   This workshop looks at positive strategies we can all implement to celebrate our successes and move forward despite small setbacks.

Careers outside of academia
Amy Padfield, Education & Engagement Manager
Wan Yi Tsang, Education Intern

A panel of ecologists from careers outside of academia present and discuss practical advice on pursuing similar pathways. This workshop includes a networking opportunity for delegates and session leaders, as well as and tips on pursuing a career outside of research within universities and wider opportunities available in the ecological sciences.

Challenging conversations: finding a shared language
Karen Devine, Head of External Affairs

As we talk about ourselves, the challenges we encounter in our lives and workplaces we have a language that makes us and others feel positive and language that makes us and others feel marginalised. Language matters and itself is a barrier to supportive and inclusive conversations in the workplace.  This workshop is aimed at anyone who feels they need advice on how to raise and tackle important conversations within their places of work and study with a view to improving equality and inclusion.  Our panellists will focus on the conversations around ethnicity, gender, LGBTQ+ and long term health conditions.

Early career development day
Amy Padfield, Education & Engagement Manager
NOTE: This will be held on Friday 11 December. As a delegate you will be sent a link to register for free.

This workshop will provide early career ecologists with guidance and topics relevant to PhD and postdoc level. Topics will include work-life balance, presenting at and navigating online conferences, and networking tips. The workshop also includes the opportunity to network with senior academics and other early career ecologists in a welcoming day of workshops before the Festival of Ecology begins.

Fieldwork: staying safe and keeping others safe
Karen Devine, Head of External Affairs

In the context of safeguarding ourselves and our duty of care to others, we will explore the risks and challenges of field research in national and international settings. This event will be particularly relevant to people who are new to the field or taking on supervision of remote field workers, field assistants and working with local communities.  We’ll use a series of example scenarios (none of which we’ve had to make up, they’re all based on real experiences of our members and reflect the diverse nature of our membership from the field experiences of women, LGBT members, those with additional support needs and those who were impacted by unexpected challenges) to explore how we identify potential safeguarding risks, how we define what is and isn’t a duty of care issue, who holds the responsibilities and what we can do to keep ourselves and others safe.

Finding new opportunities from catastrophes
Jennifer Meyer, Managing Editor, Functional Ecology, Methods in Ecology and Evolution

Some of the best and most inspiring stories come from people who changed the direction of their research as a result of catastrophe, whether it’s a volcanic eruption, flood, drought damage to a field site, epidemic or pandemic,  this workshop looks at how experimental design can be adapted, missing data sets managed and how we can find new opportunities from catastrophes.

Getting the most out of your data – data management best practice
Emilie Aime, Senior Managing Editor, Journal of Animal Ecology, Journal of Ecology, People and Nature

This workshop will focus on the benefits of good data management. It will provide the basics of producing a useful data management plan at the start of a project and discuss what makes for well archived data from the point of view of data reuse.

Presenters will talk through the benefits of open data and the practicalities of data management and subsequent reuse of data, e.g. in meta-analyses or future collaborations.

Attendees will see that good data management:

  • Means better reproducibility (and lower likelihood of post publication problems like retractions)
  • Results in data that is easier for you and others to reuse in future (e.g. for further analyses and meta-analyses)
  • Can lead to new collaborations
  • Allows you to get the most out of the hard work of data collection

Along with hearing from expert presenters, attendees will complete a group exercise on producing data management plans and have the opportunity to put their questions to our expert panel.

Getting your review paper published
Emma Sayer, Reviews Editor, Functional Ecology
Jason Fridley, Reviews Editor, Journal of Ecology
Simon Hoggart, Senior Assistant Editor, Journal of Animal Ecology

*If you plan on attending this workshop – please bring your favourite Review paper with you and be prepared to talk about it!*

This workshop will include presentations and discussions from two of our journal’s Review Editors on what makes a good review paper, how to write and format your Review and how to “add value” to your Review paper. Attendees will also participate in two engaging activities within smaller breakout groups. We will finish with a Q&A session.

This workshop is in association with the Journal of Animal Ecology Sidnie Manton Award. An award for the best review paper in the journal.

Innovations in digital science communication in a lockdown world
Led by: Jamie Gallagher, Engagement Consultant
Supported by: Chris Jeffs, BES Senior Education & Engagement Officer

Without physical public events, digital methods in science communication have been essential to continue connecting with our publics during lockdown.

In this interactive workshop, leading public engagement consultant Dr Jamie Gallagher will demonstrate a range of successful digital methods for engaging with publics, from home-studio setups for livestreaming and podcasts to virtual networking methods and gaming.

We will also examine case studies of successful digital engagement projects during lockdown and share best practice for evaluating your activities.

Finally, we will look to the future of digital science communication to see how we can all continue to reach your target audiences.

Meet the plenary
External Affairs Team with the Festival of Ecology plenary speakers

An opportunity for Early Career Ecologists to ask questions to our internationally renowned plenary speakers and network in a smaller and more informal setting.

Mental health in academia
Karen Devine, Head of External Affairs

Over the course of March-June 2020 we offered a series of Mental Health webinars, a chance for people to chat through their experiences and share strategies for managing mental health as we stayed close to home, lost field seasons and lab experiments and access to the support networks.  Anyone is welcome to attend today’s workshop regardless of career stage.  It is a chance to talk about how we manage our own mental health, how we might support others in our teams and share the breadth of resources available.

Race and ecology panel discussion
BAME Ecologist Network

Join the BAME Ecologist Network to discuss how we maintain momentum beyond 2020, how we address the lack of diversity of individuals pursuing ecological science careers and how we attain and retain a diverse and international reach community.

Speed review!
BES Senior Editors

The Speed Review session is a chance for you to get a Senior Editor’s opinion on your manuscript – before you submit it. All you need to do is sign-up and show up with a figure or a key finding from your research to discuss with an editor from one of the seven BES journals.

Women in ecology
Amy Padfield, Education & Engagement Manager

A discussion and networking opportunity for delegates to discuss key topics of being a woman in ecology. This session is open to all career stages and is a confidential safe space to share your own experiences and discuss strategies on dealing with gender inequality.