Working Group 'Spatial Analysis of Organisms in the Environment"

In natural ecosystems, organisms are distributed due to environmental conditions, disturbances, and interactions with their conspecific and heterospecific neighbours. The relationship between species and their environment and interactions such as competition, facilitation, and regeneration may create different types of spatial distributions of species in an ecosystem. The spatial arrangement of organisms can be represented by point patterns where each point stands for the mapped location of an individual organism in a given area. 

Spatial ecology deals with the spatial distribution of organisms and a general objective of spatial analysis is to reveal the relationship between observed spatial distributions of species and the mechanisms underlying these spatial distributions. The recent advances in analysing spatial patterns of organisms in spatial ecology have greatly contributed to better understanding the distribution of organisms in space and time. 

A prerequisite for exploring the ecological information provided by spatial distributions of organisms is to precisely describe the spatial structure of point patterns with statistical methods. Over the past decades, statisticians have developed structurally different summary statistics for this purpose. Moreover, rapid advances in computer science and technology have resulted in an increased application of spatial statistics. In addition, development of remote sensing and geographic information system (GIS) technology has led to the identification of spatiotemporal patterns of organisms and has increased the possibility to identify how human activities have influenced animal and plant habitats. Consequently, ecologists have started to introduce spatial variation and complexity of ecosystems into their analyses, including changes of spatial patterns over time. 
Therefore, the working group “Spatial Analysis of Organisms in the Environment” started by a graduate initiative in the IALE-Iran can serve as a forum to develop application-specific approaches for the use of spatial analysis in ecological studies. The working group will perform the following work:

  • Reveal the importance of the topic and increase the application of spatial analysis among scientists working on ecological dynamics and processes in terrestrial ecosystems  
  • Organize symposia at IALE World or regional meetings where we can explore opportunities for joint research projects between statisticians and ecology scientists.  
  • Set up workshops on related topics (e.g., application of MATLAB, ArcGIS, and R Software such as “Spatial Statistics Tools” in ArcMap and “SPATSTAT” package in R to different topics of spatial ecology)
  • Develop and prepare publications (e.g., special issues in journals, booklets) directly focusing on the topic

The Iranian chapter of IALE is going to hold the 2nd International Conference of IALE-Iran in October 2016 (The 1st International Conference of IALE-Iran was held in October 2013). The IALE-Iran highly supports the WG to do the following activities in the conference:

  • set up a workshop on spatial analysis of plant ecosystems using R Software
  • develop a special issue of Iranian Journal of Applied Ecology (IJAE) focusing on spatial analysis of terrestrial ecosystems

Moreover, we plan to invite colleagues or the members who are interested to participate in the conference and present their achievements by giving lectures or conducting workshops.

The widespread application of spatial analysis in ecological studies makes it possible to consider special parts in IALE World Congresses or related topics in IALE Annual Conferences and prepare special issues to be published by technical journals (e.g., Ecological Modelling, Spatial Statistics).      

All interested colleagues are warmly welcome to contact:
Yousef Erfanifard (erfanifard(at)

The list of initial WG members:
Yousef Erfanifard, PhD (the WG leader)
Dept. of Natural Resources and Environment, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran

Sima Fakheran, PhD (the president of IALE-Iran)
Dept. of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Natural Resources, Isfahan University of Technology, Isfahan, Iran
Arne Pommerening, PhD
Dept. of Forest Resource Management, Faculty of Forest Sciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences SLU, Umea, Sweden

Hong Hai Nguyen, PhD
Faculty of Silviculture, Vietnam Forestry University, Hanoi, Vietnam


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IALE 2017 European Congress

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New IALE Bulletin out now!

Volume 34 no. 4, December 2016