Sunday, 30 September 2012

Brent Goose research goes virtual!!

Last week I was back in Dublin for the first time this winter, but didn't see a single brent goose! In fact I rarely even ventured away from a computer screen (at least not before it was time to head to the pub in the evening...). Instead I was hard at work in TCD with Dr Andrew Jackson creating a population of virtual geese that will help us understand more about what can affect our social network construction for our real geese! 

Using a statistics program called R we created a population of geese that were sampled to produce "flocks" that could be used to build social networks. By having a virtual population of imaginary geese it is possible for us to play with properties of the geese, the way the flocks form, or the methods that we use to build social networks to see what effect these might have on what we observe in real life.


Already, we have found some really cool stuff using these "simulations" of real life, and hopefully this new population of geese for me to study will teach us a lot more in the imminent future! In fact those two days of hard work in Dublin may just have been the two most important of my PhD so far!!! That and it was awesome to be back again - its not long until fieldwork time now.....

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