Handy tips for doing a statistical model

When it comes to designing a statistical model, a lot of uncertainty comes to mind. In December, BIOS2 will offer a workshop which will give you some helpful strategies for fitting and understanding your regression models. Led by Dr Andrew MacDonald, the workshop will happen during 3h in two days on December 12 and 14, 2023, with lots of time for questions and discussions of your own work. This workshop should be accessible to any graduate student, though prior experience in R is helpful. The workshop will be in English, with support in French.

To register, fill out the form linked at the end of this page by December 9th, 2023.


Day 1:

  • What’s zero? When and how to center a variable?
  • What are the units? Scaling a variable and why you should do it.
  • What does it mean? Making predictions.
  • Does it depend? Fitting and visualizing interactions.

Day 2:

  • What do you expect? Simulating datasets.
  • The secret weapon: fitting the same model multiple times.

When: 13h EST, Tuesday 12 Dec and Thursday 14 Dec, 2023.
Duration: 3h each day (total of 6 hours)
Where: Online - information to be sent one day before the workshop
Registration form:
Registration deadline:  December 9th, 2023

Apply to participate in a Hydro Quebec + BIOS² working group

The NSERC-CREATE training program in Computational Biology BIOS2, in collaboration with Hydro Quebec, is now accepting applications to participate in a working group that will be held from March 18 to 22, 2024, in the Montreal Area, QC. Applications are due on January 15, 2024. To apply, please fill out this form:

Description of the activity

Working groups consist of a small group of researchers who meet in person and work intensively and collaboratively on a research question, to solve a specific problem, or to develop a specific project. The working group’s goal is to prototype a chapter of an environmental impact assessment report focused on biodiversity measures, using empirical data from real Hydro Quebec projects. Students will work to implement a chapter that should help with decision-making that is efficient, applicable and with content that is easy to communicate.


Applicants must be currently registered in a study program in ecology, environmental science, evolution or a related discipline in a Canadian university. The call is primarily for graduate students, but a few places will be open for undergraduate students and for postdocs whose research aligns with the theme of the working group.

Ideally, candidates will be proficient in R with some experience of working with large ecological datasets, in a collaborative environment, and communicating their analysis and results. Candidates should also be able to participate in person on all 5 days of the activities. Given the goal of the working group, the following skills will be prioritized in the selection process:


  • Data visualization
  • Map design
  • Technical writing in English
  • Technical writing in French
  • Environmental policy
  • Decision making

Computational Ecology

  • Multivariate analysis
  • Geographical statistics
  • Data management
  • Climate change
  • Simulations
  • Ecological niche and species distribution modeling
  • Landscape ecology
  • Environmental impact assessment
  • Community ecology

Please notice you don’t need to check all the boxes in the list of skills above to apply. Any combination of skills is welcome, just make sure to emphasize them in the application. It is important, however, to keep in mind that there will be mandatory readings in French.

The highest priority will go to BIOS2 Fellows. Participation fees (travel, accommodation and meals during the event) will be covered for BIOS2 program members, as well as for students registered at a BIOS2-affiliated university. Students from other universities are welcome to apply but must cover their cost of participation.

Candidates with caring responsibilities are welcome and encouraged to apply and we will accommodate their needs, as much as possible. The common language used in this working group will be English, but support in French, Portuguese and Spanish will be provided.

Presentation of the project

Prototype of a biodiversity chapter for environmental impact assessment reports

Leaders: Alexandre Beauchemin, Biologiste, M.Sc. Env. (Hydro Québec), Amélie Drolet Biologiste, M.Sc. (Hydro Quebec), and Dominique Gravel, PhD (BIOS2, Réseau d’observation de la biodiversité du Québec, Université de Sherbrooke).
Facilitator: Gracielle Higino, PhD (BIOS2)

Date of the working group: March 18 to 22, 2024.
Location: In person, in the Montreal Area (place TBD)
Application deadline: January 15, 2024
Application form:

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us at

Interpretable Machine Learning applied to SDMs

Machine Learning is not a black box (unless we want to!). If you ever wondered what the results of a species distribution model actually mean, BIOS² is here to help you! On October 6, 2023, at 1pm – 3pm EDT, Professor Timothée Poisot will host a short and very participatory workshop on how to interpret machine learning models applied to SDMs.

In this workshop, participants will build a simple model to predict the distribution of the raccoon in the South of Québec based on observations. Rather than focus on “what is the prediction?”, we will ask questions about “why”. Specifically, by mixing the presentation of the results with mini group discussions, we will question how the model works, when it is acceptable to apply our best judgment and ignore some performance metrics, and how we can think about interpretable machine learning to improve model transparency. Attendees will get access to all the code and data at the end of the workshop.

The workshop will be hosted virtually, and information about access will be sent out to registered participants one day before the event.

To apply, please fill out this form by October 4th, 2023:

Several calls for applications are now open!

The 2023 season of call for applications of BIOS2 is open! There are several opportunities available: undergraduate fellowship, postdoctoral fellowship for persistence and graduate student fellowship. Applications for the undergraduate and postdoctoral fellowships will be open until the positions are filled, and the graduate student fellowship applications close on August 18, 2023.

Introductory workshop to Python

The BIOS² training program offers an Introductory workshop to Python for R users. The workshop will be presented on May 15 and 16, 2023 by Vincent Beauregard, data specialist at Biodiversité Québec.

The course aims to provide the basics of Python and to familiarize participants with the tools and libraries relevant to computational ecology. Sessions will build on participants’ prior knowledge of the R language to facilitate learning. Topics will include data manipulation with Pandas, data visualization with Matplotlib, and data analysis with Numpy and Scipy. Students will also learn how to break their code into functions and work with classes in Python.

The workshop is offered in preparation for the Advanced Field School in Computational Ecology, but is open to all members of the BIOS2 program and any other interested individuals.


Vincent Beauregard is a technical coordinator, and a specialist in infrastructure, biodiversity data interfaces and spatial data from remote sensing at Biodiversité Québec. He is interested in the automation of data processing schemes.

What: Introductory workshop to Python
When: May 15 and 16, 2023 @ 1 pm – 4 pm (your time here)
Where: Online and at Université Laval
Language: English (bilingual Q&A and discussion)
Fees: free – offered only for participants of the Advanced Field School in Computational Ecology.
Registration deadline: May 11, 2023
Registration link:

Environmental Impact Assessment workshop with Hydro-Québec

The BIOS² and Hydro-Québec have partnered up to offer a workshop on environmental impact assessment on May 4, 2023 at 1 pm EDT. This workshop is free and open to all and is part of the training offered to BIOS² fellows.

This session will be a guided tour of Hydro-Québec’s perspective on biologists’ involvement in major hydroelectric projects. The main milestones of the environmental impact assessment process will be illustrated using multiple examples of projects that favoured biodiversity and were inspired by the field of applied ecology.

This workshop is the first activity of a series that will be done in collaboration with Hydro-Québec. In the fall, BIOS2 will be organizing a working group whose objective will be to propose solutions for better integration of ecological knowledge and biodiversity data into Hydro-Quebec’s environmental impact studies. The working group will be carried out in consultation with relevant stakeholders and in collaboration with biologists working at Hydro-Quebec. Trainees who are interested in participating in this working group are strongly encouraged to attend the proposed workshop on May 4.

About the trainers

Alexandre Beauchemin has been working for Hydro-Québec since 2004. He studied biology at McGill University and obtained his Master’s degree in Environmental Sciences from Université du Québec à Montréal.
Amélie Drolet studied wildlife biology at McGill University and obtained her Master’s degree in Biology from Université Laval. After graduating she worked for several years in consulting before joining Hydro-Québec in 2021.

What: Environmental Impact Assessment workshop
When: May 4, 2023 – 1pm – 3:30pm EDT (your time here)
Where: Online
Language: English (bilingual Q&A and discussion)
Fees: free (places are limited).
Registration deadline: May 3, 2023
Registration link: