MOOC on Ecological Monitoring

This course is about ecological monitoring, an essential aspect of protected areas management. Following this 4-module MOOC, you will acquire a good basis on what monitoring is and how it should be conducted. What is it meant for, which methods and techniques should be chosen, why, how to implement them? What are the statistical tools that you should know about to implement a good monitoring? Finally, the course provides practical examples of monitoring conducted in different environments and targeting different species, going from theory to practice.


Watch the teaser of the coursealternate text

Enroll to the course

Several sessions of the MOOC are organised each year. Registrations for the next session are open now.

If the button above does not work, please copy/paste the following link in your browser: https://courseware.epfl.ch/courses/course-v1:EPFL+eco-monitoring+2018_T1/about


Detailed instructions on the registration

You have issues with the registration? Please follow these detailed instructions: http://papaco.org/how-to-join-the-em-mooc/


More on the course

Read Geoffroy Mauvais’ editorial on online training, from the PARKS journal here



This unit is a general introduction to the MOOC, and it establishes the foundation to start the course well.

Sequence Description
  Recommended reading
1.0 MOOC introduction General presentation of the course
1.1 Unit introduction Detailed outline of unit 1
1.2 Why do we monitor? The importance of monitoring a PA’s ecology
1.3 What is EM? EM definition, complexity and diversity
1.4 What is EM for? Possible uses of EM, examples and testimonies
1.5 Setting EM goals Values, key ecological attributes, conservation goals, indicators
1.6 How to choose the monitoring method? Collecting data according to the different KEAs
1.7 Sampling KEAs for EM Sampling logic, total/partial, random, stratified
1.8 Effective monitoring at the best cost How to choose according to costs and means available
1.9 Data analysis Implementation, processing, decision-making
1.10 Summary Unit 1 summary
Exam 1 – Graded quiz on unit 1



This unit specifically looks at EM techniques.

Sequence Description
  Recommended readings
2.1 Unit introduction Unit intro – outline – goals
2.2 Statistics: basic notions Basic notions: variables, populations, samples
2.2 bis Summary and example Summary and example of sequence 2.2
2.3 Numerical summaries Frequency, exploratory analysis, median, variance
2.3 bis Summary and example Summary and example of sequence 2.3
2.4 Graphical summary Pie charts, bar charts and box plots
2.4 bis Summary and example Summary and example of sequence 2.4
2.5 Population distribution models Some population distribution models (normal, Poisson distribution, exponential), numerical summaries and models, choosing a model.
2.5 bis Summary and example Summary and example of sequence 2.5
2.6 Estimattion Estimators, calibration, method of moments, Maximum Likelihood Estimator
2.6 bis Summary and example Summary and example of sequence 2.6
2.7 Confidence intervals Estimate, confidence
2.7 bis Summary and example Summary and example of sequence 2.7
2.8 Hypothesis tests Compare theories and data
2.8 bis Summary and example Summary and example of sequence 2.8
2.9 Jolly method Jolly method
Exam 2 – Graded quiz on units 1 and 2



This module lays out EM practical techniques.


Sequence Description
  Recommended reading
3.1 Unit introduction Unit introduction – outline – goals
3.2 Basics of ecology Identifying attributes
3.3 Basics of ecology Choosing the method and the sample
3.4 Monitoring abiotic factors Important abiotic factors, measuring techniques, uses and benefits
3.5 Monitoring plants Understanding and monitoring plant communities, the structure and the evolution of an ecosystem’s vegetation
3.6 Monitoring large mammals: directly Direct observation methods, travelling counts, IKA, stationary counts, transects,

presenting results, decision-making

3.7 Monitoring large mammals: indirectly Indirect methods, monitoring through tourism, villagers’ feedback, monitoring tracks and droppings, camera-traps, calling stations
3.8 Case study: carnivores Techniques, benefits, uses
3.9 Case study: primates Techniques, benefits, uses
3.10 Case study: aerial count Inflight inventory techniques, data processing, total or partial count, monitoring large species through satellite, drones and kites
3.11 Case study : mobile animals Techniques, collars, bands, GPS, marking, Mark and Recapture



This unit illustrates the techniques presented in units 2 and 3 with a series of practical EM examples in different environments, on different species and at different scales.


Sequence Description
  Recommended reading
4.1 Unit introduction Unit introduction – outline – goals
4.2 Levels of EM Differents possibles levels, biomes, species, means
4.3 Example of EM on different PAs: NRT Specificities and monitoring examples in several PAs
4.4 EM example of a terrestrial PA: Nazinga Specificities and monitoring examples in a terrestrial PA
4.5 EM example in a marine PA: Aldabra Specificities and monitoring examples in a marine PA
4.6 EM example in the forest: Taï Specificities and monitoring examples in the forest
4.7 EM example in the savanna: Comoé Specificities and monitoring examples in the savanna
4.8 EM example of populations: water-birds Specificities and monitoring examples of water-bird populations
4.9 EM example elephants Specificities and monitoring examples of elephants
4.10 20 golden rules EM golden rules
Final exam – Graded quiz based on the entire course

The course also exists in French: http://papaco.org/fr/mooc/1271-2/