discussion / Community Base  / 6 July 2023

Need for statisticians in conservation?

Hello, WildLabs community!

I'm currently a Ph.D. student in statistical physics at Virginia Tech, but I am contemplating a shift to a pure and applied statistics Master's program to focus more on real data and solving timely environmental issues. I aim to contribute to wildlife conservation efforts, especially fisheries and forest conservation. I'm also highly interested in behavior change and economics-based approaches to conservation.

I'm interested in understanding the community's perspective on the importance of statisticians in conservation. Are you finding a need for individuals who can delve into the data, make sense of it, and draw meaningful conclusions? How essential do you find statistical models, inference, and robust data analysis in your work?

Is there a significant demand for these skills, or do you feel that most conservationists have a good grasp of the necessary statistics? I would appreciate any insights, as this information will help me decide on the next steps in my educational journey.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to your responses!

Hi Lev,

We always need more hands in conservation, from whichever field! Engineering, computer science, AI/ML, ecology, environmental science, communications, statisticians, etc. 

I would say that conservation tech is moving heavily towards deep learning for data processing/analysis just because of the sheer amount of data being generated now, so it's always helpful if you have experience in that. But we still need ecological modeling (species distribution models, occupancy models, accumulation curves, etc.) to translate processed data into actionable conservation insights! So experience here too is a plus. 

If you'd like to get a better idea of the diversity of programs, people, and orgs in conservation tech as you navigate your journey, the Conservation Tech Directory may also be a helpful resource for you.

All the best,