A "virtual ecologist" is an approach in simulation modeling, where one mimics the process of sampling - generating imperfect information from a model which, presumably, gives perfect knowledge.

We seek a student who would develop a Virtual Ecologist model to explore how one can optimize monitoring efforts.

Main questions are: given variability and time and space, and limitations on costs (e.g. how many places we can sample, and how often), one has to decide how many times a point has to be visited (within a year and between years) versus how many sampling points (or transects) need to be established.

With this in hand, one can ask: do I have enough points to obtain a spatial pattern (e.g. species distribution)? A trend in populations? Or, changes in community structure?

Imagine this question for a butterfly, bird or a mammal; a single species or questions about species-richness - the answer will differ!

Desired capacities: programming in C++ or in R. Mathematical skills are highly welcome as well.

Starting time: Autumn 2014 or early 2015, 6 months.