# Instructor Notes

## Why ecological forecasting?

Why do we need ecological forecasting?

- Manage environmental change
- Test how well we understand ecosystems

What are some of things we need to be able to make forecasts?

- Models
- Data

## Forecastability?

What influences our ability to forecast and how?

- How well the factors driving the response are understood
- How much data is available
- Whether the forecast influences the thing being forecast
- Are there examples in ecology where a forecast could influence the thing being forecast?

## Forecasting, planning, and goals

What kinds of time-scales of forecasts do we want/need in ecology?

How might these different “forecasting horizons” influence our approaches to forecasting?

## Determining what to forecast

How should we think about what to forecast in ecology?

- Talk to those who need or are impacted by the forecast
- Consider whether we have the data/models we need

## Terminology

What is forecasting?

- Forecasting - probabalistic statement about the future using data assimilation.

The Luo et al. paper distinguishes between forecasting, prediction, projection & prognosis. What are the core differences?

- Prediction - quantitative estimate of an unknown state. Can be about the future. Not necessarily accurate.
- Projection - Possible future state resulting from a choice of future scenarios. Typically quantitative.
- Prognosis - more subjective.
**Note that these definitions vary across and even within disciplines****Definition of forecasting is much more narrow than most**

Are these terms consistently used the two readings? In your experience more broadly?

- Not really. Different fields, disciplines, and authors use them in different ways.

## Uncertainty

What is the distinction between point estimates and uncertainty?

- Point estimates are the expected value or mean prediction
- Uncertainty is the variability around that mean value, that describes the reasonable range of predictions.

Do most ecological forecasts include uncertainty estimates?

- No

Why does estimating uncertainty matter?

- Need to know how much to trust forecasts
- What the realistic range of outcomes could be

## Forecasting data and methods

What are the general types of models that can be used for forecasting and how do they differ?

- Data-driven vs. Process modeling
- What is a good example of cross-sectional forecasting in ecology?
- What is a good example of time-series forecasting?

- Within data-driven “Time series” vs. “Explanatory”

What are the different ways in which model parameters are determined?

- Fixed
- Fitted
- How does this relate to process vs data-driven modeling?

When might these different approaches be most appropriate in ecology?

What are the different ways in which time can be incorporated into these models?

- Explicitly
- Implicitly (driving variables that change)
- Not included

## Basic steps

How do the “basic steps” of forecasting relate to ecological forecasting?

- How well do you think our field does at each of these steps?
- What can we do to improve on our current approaches?

## Where do you think we are?

- How good do you think we currently are at forecasting in ecology?
- What does the history of weather forecasting tell you about how that might change?