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Proteus has helped people like you around the globe

Our client list includes government agencies, university researchers, private industry and non-government organizations. We have provided advice on studies for a wide variety of species; aquatic to terrestrial, insects to bears, amphibians to birds, dolphins to tigers. Below are some examples of projects we have helped with. Contact us to discuss how we could help you with your projects.

Hector’s dolphin - abundance and distribution surveys

Since 2012 Proteus and the Cawthron Institute have collaborated on the design and implementation of aerial transect surveys around New Zealand’s South Island to estimate the abundance and distribution of Hector’s dolphin within 20 n.mi. of the coast line, for the Ministry of Primary Industry.

Proteus helped by:

  • determining the total level of survey effort required to obtain precise abundance estimates
  • allocating survey effort to different strata
  • provide input on the field protocols to ensure that the collected data would be statistically robust
  • train the field crew on important statistical aspects of distance sampling
  • extend existing methods for analysing double-observer distance sampling data
  • perform all analyses and interpret the results.

While some aspects of the work is on-going, in 2016 we estimated that there were almost 15,000 Hector’s dolphins, with approximately half the population in areas that had not been extensively surveyed previously.

New Zealand sea-lion - demographic study

The New Zealand sea lion's primary breeding colonies are in the sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands, near economically important squid fishing grounds. New Zealand's Department of Conservation have been collecting mark-recapture data since the early 1990's. From 2008-2011 Proteus was contracted to provide annually updated estimates of survival and breeding probabilities using multi-state mark-recapture analyses.

WildCount - design of large scale monitoring programmes

WildCount is a large state-wide monitoring program in New South Wales, Australia, to examine changes in wildlife species distributions over time using camera trapping data from 200 sites. The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage contracted Proteus to review and comment on the initial proposal, and provide advice on sample size considerations. Since the programme was implemented in 2012, the team at Proteus have periodically helped with the analysis of the data using occupancy models that account for the imperfect detection of many of these species.

ARMI - Methodological development

Proteus has had a long-standing relationship with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative (ARMI), developing methods to model species occurrence data while accounting for potential 'false absences' in the data (i.e., when the species was present but undetected. These methodological developments are very important to enable reliable conclusions to be made about the patterns and dynamics of species distributions. ARMI have been a prime supporter of the development of occupancy models since 2001 by funding numerous research projects. These methods are now widely used on many different species all around the world. In 2017, our Senior Biometrician  Darryl MacKenzie was lead author on the second edition of the book Occupancy Estimation and Modeling, which details many of these techniques.

Wind farm proposal - impact assessment

Provided expert statistical advice to New Zealand's Department of Conservation for their application on Contact Energy's proposed 169 turbine Hauãuru mã raki wind farm on the west coast of the North Island. Areas of advice included modeling of potential bird mortalities (particularly migratory shore-birds), monitoring protocols for bird carcass searches and mortality mitigation monitoring protocols.

Dunedin rugby players - population dynamics

In 2017 the Otago Rugby Football Union (ORFU; New Zealand) initiated a review of Dunedin Metropolitan adult (i.e., post-high school) rugby competitions due to a gradual decline in player numbers since the 1990’s. The purpose of the review was to identify potential management actions that could be implemented to encourage players to keep playing. Numerous aspects of rugby in Dunedin were investigated by the review group, including changes over time in the number of registered players. The team at Proteus contributed to the review by analysing the registration database of all players (children and adults) registered to play in Dunedin since 2004 to explore:

  • how the number of players within defined age groups had changed over time, broken down by categories of new, retained (registered in previous year) and returning players (not registered in previous year, but registered prior to that).
  • what proportion of players permanently stop playing in Dunedin, and of those that don’t stop, what proportion play each season. How these proportions vary by age was also examined. This allowed us to calculate how many possible players there might be in each age group that might return to rugby, but are choosing not to play each season.

We used statistical methods that are commonly used in population ecology to help the ORFU gain a better understanding of factors influencing changes in the number of Dunedin rugby players.

Mallard ducks - monitoring and management

As part of their Mallard Duck Research Programme, Fish and Game New Zealand engaged Proteus to review and advise on the annual mallard population surveys conducted by each regional Fish and Game council. This involved providing advice on the different survey options for large-scale monitoring programmes, how to incorporate that information into the management decision making process (i.e., setting hunting regulations), and critiquing the results of the annual surveys.

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