[Picture of Len Thomas]

Len Thomas

Director, Centre for Research into Ecological and Environmental Modelling
and Reader in Statistics, School of Mathematics and Statistics
University of St. Andrews
The Observatory, St. Andrews
Scotland KY16 9LZ

Phone: (01334) 461801 Fax: (01334) 461800
E-mail: len.thomas 'at' st-andrews.ac.uk

Publications Talks and Posters Software

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About me

I am a statistical ecologist based in the Centre for Research into Ecological and Environmental Modelling (CREEM) at the University of St Andrews. CREEM is nominally divided up into research units, and some of my work is within the Research Unit for Wildlife Population Assessment (RUWPA). I am also part of the National Centre for Statistical Ecology (NCSE) and Scottish Oceans Institute (SOI).

There are two main strands to my work:

  • Use of computer intensive methods to fit and compare stochastic models of wildlife population dynamics. I mostly work on algorithms called particle filters.
    Here is an accessible article about some of this work.
  • Development of methods and software for estimating the size, density and distribution of wild animal and plant populations. I mostly work on a group of related methods called distance sampling.
    Here is a poster giving an accessible overview of some of this work.
    Here is an introductory article on distance sampling.
For more on these topics, see Links related to current projects.

Further information



  • MT3607: Computing in Statistics. Co-taught with Eric Rexstad. Class will next be taught in Semester 1 (i.e. Sept-Dec) 2014.
  • International training workshops in distance sampling and wildlife abundance estimation.

Students and Postdocs

PhD students I (co-)supervise:
  • Internal
    • Rebecca Jewell (Biology). Modelling cetacean dive behaviour and density, and relating spatio-temporal trends in density to anthropogenic activities.
    • David Moretti (Biology). Determining the effect of Mid-Frequency Active (MFA) sonar on the fitness of Blainville’s beaked whales (Mesoplodon densirostris) in the Tongue of the Ocean (TOTO).
    • Nancy DiMarzio (Biology). Distribution, habitat use and movements of Blainville’s beaked whales in the Tongue of the Ocean (TOTO).
    • Rocio Gonzalez (Statistics). Animal movement and distance sampling.
    • Paul Wensveen (Statistics). Behavioural and motor responses of wild and captive cetaceans to intense sounds.
  • External
    • James Lawrence (Statistical Laboratory, Univ. Cambridge). Trans-dimensional sequential importance sampling for model averaging, with application to Bayesian state-space models of wildlife population dynamics.
    • Goldie Philips (Nichols School of the Environment, Duke University). Passive Acoustics: A Tool for Abundance Estimation, Predictive Habitat Modeling, and the Examination of Noise Effects on Bottlenose Dolphin Communication Signals.
Post-doctoral research fellows I (co-)supervise:
  • Stacy DeRuiter. MOCHA - Multi-study Ocean acoustics Human effects Analysis.
  • Catriona Harris. MOCHA and PCADs - Population consequence of acoustic disturbance.
  • Danielle Harris. Cheap DECAF - Developing cost effective methods for Density Estimation from Acoustic Fixed sensors.
  • Larua Marshall. Distance programming.
  • David Miller. Distance programming.
  • Tiago Marques. LATTE - Linking Acoustic Tests and Tagging using statistical Estimation: modeling the behavior of beaked whales in response to mid-frequency active sonar.
  • Cornelia Oedekoven. Population Consequence of Disturbance (PCoD) and other projects.
  • Dina Sadykova. MOCHA.
  • Rob Schick. PCoD. (Rob is now a MASTS fellow.)


Links related to some current projects
Past research

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