Online workshop: analysis of camera trap data with distance sampling, October 2021

Camera traps are widely used for studying terrestrial animal populations. Several methods exist for analysis of camera trap data to estimate animal abundance. Use of distance sampling theory for analysis of camera trap data does not require identification of individual animals to estimate abundance, making it applicable to a much larger set of species. This workshop, through lectures and computer exercises, provides training in survey design and the analysis of camera trap data to produce abundance estimates.


The training workshop is intended to teach the fundamental principles of design and analysis of animal abundance using data derived from camera traps. In association with the principles, computer exercises will guide participants through survey design, fitting detection functions to detections, performing model selection, estimating temporal availability of animals and computing measures of uncertainty. This is the first of a pair of planned workshops, with the second expected to take place in March 2022. During the first workshop the R software will be used for design and analysis. The second workshop will resemble the first, except that the Distance for Windows software will be used to generate designs and perform analyses. The training workshop is intended to teach the fundamental principles of design and analysis of animal abundance using data derived from camera traps.



18th – 21st October 2021, 14:00-17:00 UK time. To find the time in your location, follow this link to a universal time converter.

Enrollment limit

Registration is limited to 15 participants, to allow us to run the workshop with participant involvement.

Format and Delivery method

The workshop will be a mix of live online interactive sessions, delivered via videoconference software (Microsoft Teams) and computer exercises. There will be four sessions, on successive days, each lasting three hours. In addition, there will be practical exercises to be attempted outside of the scheduled sessions. The practicals will be carried out in R, using the facility of RStudio/Cloud. This will alleviate the need to install necessary R packages on personal computers. However, use of RStudio/Cloud does require reasonable internet bandwidth.


  • Day 1. Provides the foundation of distance sampling. The first computer exercise focuses upon analysis of point transect data (from a songbird survey) to initiate participants in fitting detection functions, assessing model fit and performing model selection. The second half of the session describes fundamentals of applying distance sampling analyses to camera trap data. The computer exercise associated with this topic (and subsequent topics) uses data on Maxwell’s duikers from the 2018 paper:
    • Howe, E. J., Buckland, S. T., Després-Einspenner, M.-L., & Kühl, H. S. (2018). Distance sampling with camera traps. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 8:1558–1565. DOI
  • Day 2. This day (as with days 3 and 4) will begin with a question and answer session to allow participants to raise any points that require further clarification related to the lectures or computer exercises on Day 1. The first lecture/exercise topic of the day deals with design of camera trap surveys. The second half of the day is devoted to the special problem of model selection that arises with camera trap data, possibly caused by over-dispersion in the distribution of detection distances. Methods for refining model selection in this situation is described and applied to the duiker analysis from Day 1.
  • Day 3. After the question and answer session, the first topic of this day is assessing temporal availability of the study animal and ways to incorporate the estimate of temporal availability (and the uncertainty in that estimate) in the estimation of animal abundance. The second half of the day’s session is devoted to practical matters of conducting a camera trapping survey in the field. There is no practical exercise for this topic, time instead is devoted to discussion among the participants.
  • Day 4. Following an open question and answer session, there will be two periods to discuss special topics. Those are topics nominated by participants for additional discussion, lead by the instructors. Following a break, the workshop concludes with additiona time to use as instructors determine.


You should already understand distance sampling concepts, for example by having taken a face-to-face introductory workshop or an online workshop (either interactive or via our free pre-recorded lectures). You should also have modest experience using R. We will offer pre-workshop group meetings to check the video-conferencing software.

Registration and Payment

The Registration Fee is 270GBP.

Registration now closed

All participants are asked to abide by our workshop code of conduct.


For more information about the workshop or registration process please contact Eric Rexstad, email:

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