Module 12: Fundamental Statistical Tools

About the course

A good working knowledge of statistics can help you achieve better study designs, choose the correct analytical framework, and present your results in a meaningful way. In conservation, statistics is crucial for making decisions and predictions based on data. Module 12 aims to provide an understanding of fundamental statistical tools, and how to implement them in the widely used R software. All sessions include practical exercises that will help you become familiar with the R language.

    • Session 1

All statistical endeavours start with data. In this session, you will learn how to import your data into the R environment. This will be the perfect opportunity for you to become familiar with the R language, as well as with its basic commands. You will learn about data types most commonly used by ecologists, and the basics of descriptive statistics.

    • Session 2

In this session, we explore in more details the fundamentals of statistical theory. Using built-in datasets in R, you will learn how to identify methods that are most appropriate depending on the data you are working with, as well as essential principles of hypothesis testing.

    • Session 3

Using what we learned in the previous two sessions, we will work through all essential steps involved in data analysis, with a focus on linear regression. This includes the formulation of a hypothesis, data preparation and visualisation, statistical testing, and finally, results interpretation. We will complete two full practical exercises in R using built-in datasets. At the end of this session, you will be split into different groups in order to carry out one final analysis, which will be presented the week after.

    • Session 4

This session will start with presentation of results from the last analysis (see Session 3). The rest of the session will be dedicated to identifying and avoiding common mistakes in data analysis. This will allow us to also discuss issues related to results interpretation, which is essential in the field of conservation science when results may directly inform conservation planning.

Skills you will gain

    • How to organise your data
    • Hypothesis testing
    • Linear regression
    • Interpretation of results
    • How to avoid common mistakes

Meet the Resource Team

Anne Heloise Theo is a marine ecologist working on community ecology and behaviour of reef fish. She is currently a PhD student in the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science.

Guillaume Demare is a PhD candidate at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, Germany. His research currently focuses on the community ecology of West African amphibians.


  • Thursdays June 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th 2021
  • 14:00-16:30 Bishkek time (2.5 hour)

Criteria for participation

  • Snow Leopard Network Member
  • Confirmed availability to attend all the four online seminars of a given module
  • Number of participants is limited to 25

Planned Schedule

  • 2.5 hour online Zoom Seminars take place Thursday of the month, June 2021 at 14:00 Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan time.
  • Additional group work, assignments or readings are likely to be organized by the trainers
  • Please note we expect all participants to attend the complete set of Thursday Seminars as they are interconnected and build on each other
  • Details of each specific Seminar topic will be shared approximately 5 days beforehand; including any expected preparations by participants.
  • Please note that all sessions are recorded and then made available online through the SLN youtube channel. By participating in these online sessions you automatically agree to authorise recording of audio and visual content presented during the live event and consent to subsequent use of the recording in the public domain by SLN. If you have any concerns please contact us. 

Deadline for Applications

  • May 26th, 2021. Please note places are limited so please do
    not delay in applying.
  • Register HERE


New Note to Bibliography




Please find details of a new note reporting a SL predation on an adult yak, which has been added to our bibliography:

Title: Snow leopard (Panthera uncia) predation and consumption of an adult yak in the Mongolian Altai.

Authors: 􏰢􏰡􏰈􏰪 􏰖􏰓􏰈􏰨􏰅Krofel, M., Groff, C., Oberosler, V., Augugliaro, C., Rovero, F.

Introduction: The snow leopard (Panthera uncia) is an apex predator of mountainous ecosystems in Central Asia, characterised by relatively long feeding times and low kill rates (Johansson et al. 2015; Mallon et al. 2016). Predation is mainly focused on wild ungulates and the vast majority of animals killed by snow leopards are smaller than 100 kg (Lovari et al. 2013). Throughout most of their range, Siberian ibex (Capra sibirica), blue sheep (Pseudois nayaur), and argali (Ovis ammon) represent the most important prey (Hunter 2015). These species weigh up to 180 kg, which was suggested to be near the maximum limit of the prey size that snow leopard can handle (i.e. about 3 times its size) (e.g. Schaller 1977; Hunter 2015). Accordingly, researchers generally assume that prey like adult yaks (Bos grunniens) with an average body weight of 250 kg (Bagchi & Mishra 2006), are too large to be killed by snow leopards (e.g. Devkota et al. 2013; Chetri et al. 2017). In contrast, local livestock herders report that snow leopard can also kill larger prey, including adult yaks (e.g. Li et al. 2013; Suryawanshi et al. 2013), but confirmed records of snow leopard killing prey of this size appear to be lacking in the literature. We also have very limited knowledge about the consumption of snow leopard kills, and the scavengers, including conspecifics, that are using them (Fox & Chundawat 2016; Schaller 2016). Here we report on a predation event and the following consumption process of a snow leopard kill, a free-roaming adult female yak, which we studied in 2019 using snow tracking, direct observation and camera trapping in the Mongolian Altai.


SLN Workshop: Snow Leopard Individual Identification- Increasing precision in camera-trap abundance estimates?

Identifying snow leopards by their spot patterns is crucial for assessing their populations. However snow leopards can be misidentified. Current analytical frameworks, such as the spatial capture recapture or the now retired (conventional) capture recapture methods, assume full confidence in the individual ID data being used for analysis. Misidentifying individuals can thus bias snow leopard abundance estimates depending on the type of misidentification error. Teams across the snow leopard range and world are working to find approaches that address these limitations. 

This workshop aims to highlight how errors in snow leopard identification is a concern and ways that such errors can be minimised. This will include the presentation of recommendations to improve individual identification from camera trap images. We will also  cover on-going and future developments in statistical ecology that could address this uncertainty analytically.

SLN welcomes its Steering Committee member Orjan Johansson who will introduce a recent publication on the scope of potential mis identifications errors in camera trap data processing. He will also share the latest thinking on investigating this challenge further. Orjan will be joined by Abinand Reddy, David Borchers, Justine Shanti Alexander, Koustubh Sharma, Manvi Sharma and Paul van Dam-Bates as Panelists. Each panelist will share their experiences and insights on snow leopard camera trapping and the tools that are being developed to address concerns with individual identification. We hope that this workshop will help share good practices and recommendations for improving individual identification.  

About the Workshop

Reliable assessments of snow leopard populations are key for their conservation. A recent paper (Johansson et al. 2020) points to frequent errors in identifying individuals and highlights how even small errors can inflate population abundance estimates.

Snow leopards can be misidentified as their spot patterns may not be easily recognized when their thick fur gets ruffled or when their body is photographed at different angles. Identification becomes even more difficult with blurry images associated with slow shutter speeds in low light or an animal’s rapid movements. A large number of photographs of different individuals can also lead to observer fatigue and subsequent errors in the identification process. Johansson et al. (2020) reported that observers tended to identify more individuals than were actually captured leading to inflated estimates. Current Capture Recapture models assume complete accuracy in the identification of individuals. These methods estimate the probability with which some individuals may never get captured during a camera trapping exercise and this allows reliable and replicable estimates of the population being surveyed. However misidentifying individuals can bias abundance estimates depending on the type of misidentification error. Improving the individual identification of snow leopards with artificial intelligence, and building uncertainties in the identification process into later statistical models, are both challenges that are at the cutting edge of research efforts. It is necessary to minimize the misidentification of animals through careful scrutiny, transparent reporting, and skills development and assessment. 

The workshop aims to outline a few tools and recommendations. Orjan will start with presenting the key findings from the study and highlight possible sources of error and what to look out for. Our guest Panelists will then share recommendations for reducing errors and introduce analytical approaches that may help support teams. We will then open the discussion for ways to improve camera-trapping surveys. 

About our Guests

Abinand Reddy is a PhD student at the Centre for Research into Ecological and Environmental Modelling, St Andrews. He is interested in developing and applying quantitative methods to inform conservation. His PhD research currently revolves around extending SCR models for better estimates of snow leopard densities.

David Borchers is a distinguished academic  at the University of St Andrews, with more than 30 years experience developing and applying statistical methods to address problems in ecology. His current main research interests focus on spatial capture-recapture and related methods.

Justine Shanti Alexander is the Executive Director of the Snow Leopard Network and the Regional Ecologist for the Snow Leopard Trust. She supports snow leopard research and conservation work across China, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and India. She also provides technical and coordination support to the GSLEP PAWS effort across range countries.

Koustubh Sharma is the International Coordinator of the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP) and a Senior Regional Ecologist at the Snow Leopard Trust. With nearly 20 years of experience in ecological research, wildlife conservation and training, he helps build collaborations and coordinate alliances and at multiple levels for snow leopard research and conservation.

Manvi Sharma is a Research Associate with the Nature Conservation Foundation, India. Her research interests include behavioral ecology, population ecology, and evolutionary ecology. She is working on the project on population assessment of snow leopards and their prey in India.

Orjan Johansson is a senior conservation scientist at the Snow Leopard Trust. His research evolves mainly around snow leopard ecology and behaviour. Orjan devotes a lot of his time to a snow leopard study in Mongolia. 

Paul van Dam-Bates is a PhD student in statistics at the University of St Andrews working with David Borchers and Michail Papathomas on latent ID spatial capture-recapture methods for camera traps and acoustic recorders. Prior to this, Paul did a masters in statistics at the University of Victoria, worked as a statistician for the Department of Conservation in New Zealand and was a statistical consultant for Ecofish Research Ltd.


Tuesday, May 11th, 2021; 14:00-15:15 Bishkek time (1h15min)


ZOOM, to join this talk,  REGISTER HERE

Please note

  • If you have never used Zoom before, we recommend that you try the link 10 minutes before the start of the lecture.
  • Please feel free to write questions in the comment area and there will be time for questions/discussion at the end of the talk.
  • Please note that the session will be recorded and later featured on the SLN website. If you have concerns about this please let us know before the session. 

Session 2: The Photographic Image, Ethics & Storytelling

Module 10

Behzad Larry has spent many years travelling across the snow leopard range capturing the stories of snow leopard individuals and communities. During this session he shares perspectives about using images (of snow leopards, people and landscapes) in communication and raise for discussion a number of very pertinent issues for snow leopard conservation- especially in the world where the image of the snow leopard is becoming so important! 
The session ends with a discussion led by Joanna Van Gruisen on ethics and examples of how conservationists can work towards putting in place safeguards and promoting good practices in the use of images for conservation communication- with a photographers manifesto.  

Session 2.1: The snow leopard image

Session 2.2: The community in images

Session 2.3: The landscape in images

Session 2.4: Photography and ethics

Session 2.5: The Photographer’s Manifesto

Session 3: Communications & Advocacy

Module 10

During Session 3 we explore Communication and Advocacy; how do we move from creating awareness, will to action- and see the change we want! We are pleased to welcome Koustubh Sharma and Matthias Fiechter  for this engaging Session. We also dive into how to use social media as a tool for communication and advocacy. 

Session 3.1: Introduction to Communication and Advocacy

3.2: Snow Leopard Partnerships with private sector & campaign Examples

Session 3.3: Social Media and Communication

Snow Leopard Conservation in Wakhan, Afghanistan

SLN is pleased to welcome Mr. Sorosh Poya Faryabi and Dr. Eve Bohnett for this special Country Update. The Wakhan Corridor is a narrow strip of isolated high mountain terrain in the far northeast of Afghanistan. The landscape is situated in the western part of the snow leopard range, linking with Pakistan, Tajikistan and China. WCS Afghanistan in close partnership with the government of Afghanistan, has collated critical information about snow leopards in Wakhan through camera trapping and collaring. It also continues implement with district authorities varied community-based conservation action in this extremely remote part of the country.

About the talk

This webinar provides an overview of recent snow leopard conservation efforts in the Wakhan National Park (WNP), a 10,950km2 GSLEP designated ‘priority landscape’ in Afghanistan. The National Park is situated at the junction of the Pamir, Hindu Kush and Karakoram mountain ranges. WNP is co-managed by communities and the national government as an IUCN Category VI protected area. Since 2006 it has received contributions from numerous bilateral donors for conservation actions undertaken by the government, with the technical support of WCS. This region hosts the core of the snow leopard population in Afghanistan.

Mr. Sorosh Poya Faryabi, Conservation and Science Manager for WCS Afghanistan, provides an update on the status of snow leopards in the country. It starts off with the history of WCS engagement in snow leopard conservation in the country, followed by an overview of conservation efforts to protect snow leopards in WNP. Dr. Eve Bohnett then describes the population assessment approach and associated challenges the team has experienced in identifying snow leopard individuals with artificial intelligence in the Wakhan. Finally, the presenters look ahead and share ideas for the future development for snow leopard monitoring in the country.  

This presentation is a tribute to the People of Wakhan who provide snow leopards a safe haven in their area.

Find out more about our speakers HERE.

Module 11: PARTNERS Monitoring and Evaluation 

About the module

Monitoring and Evaluation is a critical part of community conservation programs. It is necessary to identify and address any implementation challenges. It can also ensure that conservation programs are improved as required in response to changing threats and opportunities at the local level.

This module will focus on introducing participants to participatory approaches in monitoring and evaluation of community conservation programs. It will cover core terms, principles and approaches to M&E that are important foundations of conservation program planning and implementation. How can M&E be incorporated into conservation programs in a way that supports community ownership and engagement? 

We will draw on a set of principles and guidelines for community-based conservation, called the ‘PARTNERS principles’, which have been developed based on the extensive experience of snow leopard conservation practitioners. The team will showcase participatory techniques for M&E from snow leopard and wider landscapes across the world. These sessions will build on Module 3 and Module 7 offered in 2020. An optional session will include a “workshop” style approach where the team works through planning a monitoring or evaluation method for real world examples from the snow leopard range. 

This module is offered thanks to the partnership with France’s National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment and the Snow Leopard Trust.   

A livestock owner in Ladakh, India, who partnered with the Nature Conservation Foundation to build a predator-proof corral. Photo: Snow Leopard Trust

Dates/time of module

  • Wednesdays May 5th, 12th, 19th 2021
  • 14:00-16:00 Bishkek time

Module Outline

  • Session 1: Introduction to Monitoring and Evaluation
  • Session 2: Community Conservation & Monitoring
  • Session 3: Participatory Approaches to Evaluation 

Meet the Resource Team

Ajay Bijoor supports conservation efforts in the regions of Ladakh and Spiti valley in India. Over the last eight years, he has worked on setting up, running and monitoring community-conservation efforts in these regions. This effort aims at trying to create conditions conducive for conservation. More recently he has also been facilitating the process of building capacity for community-based conservation in snow leopard range countries.  

James Butler is currently running a program entitled ‘Knowledge brokering for Pacific climate futures’, which is designing participatory approaches to encourage the emergence of knowledge brokers, and then mechanisms to support them. Previously James has worked in resource conflict situations in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Zimbabwe and Scotland.

Juliette Young is a senior researcher at INRAE (France’s National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment) where she studies the human dimensions of biodiversity conservation. Much of her work focuses on the role of different actors, especially decision-makers and local communities, in the sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity. She has been working with the Snow Leopard Trust since 2016 on training in community-based conservation.

Justine Shanti Alexander is the Executive Director of the Snow Leopard Network. She provides support to the evaluation of the efficiency and effectiveness of community conservation initiatives to partners across the snow leopard range. Justine also acts as the Regional Ecologist for the Snow Leopard Trust and supports research and conservation work across China, Mongolia, Pakistan, India and Pakistan.

Criteria for participation

  • Snow Leopard Network Member
  • Confirmed availability to attend all the four online seminars of a given module
  • Number of participants is limited to 25

Planned Schedule

  • 2 hour online Zoom Seminars take place Wednesdays of the month, May 2021 at 14:00 Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan time.
  • Additional group work, assignments or readings are likely to be organized by the trainers
  • Please note we expect all participants to attend the complete set of Wednesday Seminars as they are interconnected and build on each other
  • Details of each specific Seminar topic will be shared approximately 5 days beforehand; including any expected preparations by participants.
  • Please note that all sessions are recorded and then made available online through the SLN youtube channel. By participating in these online sessions you automatically agree to authorise recording of audio and visual content presented during the live event and consent to subsequent use of the recording in the public domain by SLN. If you have any concerns please contact us. 

Deadline for Applications

  • April 25th, 2021. Please note places are limited so please do
    not delay in applying.
  • Applications Closed

Session 4: Conservation Optimism

Conservation Optimism

The study of environmental bright spots (i.e., “instances where science has successfully influenced policy and practice”) can be a crucial tool to help humanity navigate the current environmental challenges it is facing (Cvitanovic & Hobday 2018).

Conservation Optimism‘s mission is to empower researchers and organisations to tell these stories of conservation optimism — large and small — so as to inspire change.

Session 4 of Module 1o

In Session 4 of Module 10, you will get practical tips from the Conservation Optimism team on how to craft your messages using a solutions lens!

They will take you on a deep dive into their Positive Communication Toolkit and will help you identify and avoid the most common communication traps so that you develop solutions-based content in a range of formats. 

Session 4.1: Communication Optimism

Session 4.2: Optimism Exercises

Snow leopards in Nepal: Satellite Telemetry Update

SLN welcomes Samundra Subba and Sheren Shrestha from WWF Nepal in this further update from teams working in Nepal. Orjan Johansson – SLN Steering Committee member and also a specialist on snow leopard collaring- will joins us as facilitator.

About the talks

Ensuring the long term viability of snow leopards (Panthera uncia) across large human dominated landscapes requires an understanding of its spatial ecology and movement behavior. In the first section of the talk, Samundra Subba presents preliminary findings of the first ever GPS telemetry study by the Nepal government in the western and eastern snow leopard landscapes, and supported by WWF. The speakers give insights into what was found regarding the snow leopard’s spatial range and movement patterns, including transboundary travel to India and China.

In a second section, Sheren Shrestha describes how the collaring research is blended with community knowlege to strengthen conservation efforts. While modern science and technology has helped us understand the elusive snow leopards better, many conservation solutions find basis in traditional and community knowledge. Sheren will furthermore outline how their project supports the Nepal government to find solutions that benefit both snow leopards and communities in the Himalayas, with focus on Shey Phoksundo National Park in western Nepal.

Find out more about our speakers HERE.