The Role of Interactive User Interfaces in Fisheries and Wildlife Science

ROOM: Atlantis, Grand Ballroom 7
The use of interactive User Interfaces (UIs), including local and web-based applications built on platforms such as RShiny, has become common across all fields of science. In fisheries, wildlife, and conservation biology, interactive UIs are a powerful scientific communication tool for presenting results and promoting science accessibility. They provide scientists with a means of transforming knowledge from complex and/or abstract information into interactive visualizations. This can help drive exploratory analyses and allows those with limited scientific training or quantitative knowledge, including the general public and decision makers, to better understand the results in (near) real time. Interactive UIs can spark collaboration by facilitating data and analysis sharing between scientists and are accessible to those who may not have a level of computational skills that would otherwise be necessary for important knowledge transfer. From a practical perspective, they also address the limitations of traditional printed formats, including the number of graphics and tables that can be presented. As the relevance and use of interactive UIs continue to grow, it is increasingly important to highlight current efforts and the diversity of roles that these tools play in fisheries and wildlife science.

8:00AM Applying UI/UX Methods to Recruit and Retain Anglers. A Case Study of Angler’s Atlas Website and MyCatch Mobile App.
  Sean Simmons
Angler’s Atlas is an online resource for anglers across Canada, providing them with free maps and fishing data. Once an angler has visited the website, retaining them and encouraging them to contribute data to the platform is an ongoing challenge. To solve this challenge the company leverages user interface design and user experience testing, with an iterative approach where feedback from users helps inform future designs. In this presentation, we will review several examples of user interface design and user experience testing done on Angler’s Atlas and MyCatch. This will include examples of real time catch statistics, catch data visualizations, targeted notifications and other incentives that serve to motivate and retain anglers.
8:20AM Interactive User Interfaces: Building Models, Building Partnerships
  Lyndsie Wszola
Statistical models of species-habitat relationships are essential to many conservation efforts. As models become more sophisticated however, their outputs may require specialized expertise to understand, exacerbating communication disconnects between researchers and managers. Interactive user interfaces for Fisheries and Wildlife species-habitat models represent not only an intuitive communication tool, but also an opportunity for researchers and managers to collaborate. We present a case study of the Pheasant Habitat Simulator, an interactive species-habitat model user interface that was collaboratively developed by state wildlife managers and academic researchers. We report insights gained during the development of the tool, particularly that interactive user interfaces should include social as well as ecological information if they are to facilitate contingency planning. When managers were actively engaged in the development of the interactive user interface, they not only gained a more in-depth understanding of the model, but were also empowered to communicate their information needs for future research and modeling efforts. Our experience demonstrates that interactive user interfaces, when developed collaboratively by researchers and managers, advance both science and practice.
8:40AM Interactive Data Visualization Tools for Enhanced Communication with Stakeholders
  Megumi Oshima, Robert T. Leaf
Data processing, analysis, and dissemination from the scientific community to stakeholders can be unnecessarily slow and is often determined by the speed of publication. In this talk, we describe three case studies of employing new technologies for expeditiously gathering, visualizing, and sharing analyses using Shiny web applications. The first application we present is an interactive survey for collecting expert opinion from scientists on life-history, ecology, and fishery characteristics of Red Snapper in the northern Gulf of Mexico to understand the efficacy of large-scale tagging. The application allows experimenters to query expert opinion in a quantitative way. The second application is a searchable database of stomach content data from food habits studies conducted in the GOM. The user specifies several inputs, including predator or prey species of interest, and a network comprised of queried trophic interactions and a downloadable data table are generated. Finally, to facilitate improvements in experimental design of Mississippi fishery independent sampling we compiled information taken from three monitoring programs, so users can visualize what data are available and standardized indices of abundance for species of interest. All three applications were developed to facilitate the collection and dissemination of available data in a more efficient and user-friendly method.
9:00AM Customized Applications to Streamline Workflow for Wildlife and Fisheries Management
  Paul Lukacs, Josh Nowak
Modern computing makes wildlife management and research easier. User-friendly, adaptable interfaces and automation allow increasingly complex tasks to become routine. Unfortunately, data storage and reporting rarely keep pace with the rapid expansion of data analysis software. Such disconnects in workflow can lead to missed opportunities where data are not used fully and new information is slow to emerge. Here we present a web application, PopR (, which merges wildlife management agency databases with state-of-the-art statistical software for real-time wildlife data analysis, population modeling and reporting. Web apps provide advantages over local software because they run on any platform, users do not need to update software, and consistency is maintained at a single point. Our applications connect to remote data sources through an application program interface (API) providing secure, real-time data transfer. PopR a variety of statistical analyses needed for routine wildlife management such as Bayesian integrated population modeling, survival, sightability, herd composition, harvest, among other data sources. Finally, PopR generates reports and figures for rapid dissemination and incorporation of results into decision processes. PopR presents a seamless workflow from data to analysis to reporting.
9:20AM Enhancing Reproducibility in Fisheries Science with Interactive User Interfaces
  Danielle Quinn
Much of comprehensive and effective species management and conservation relies on the ability to monitor short- and long-term changes of key parameters over time. In fisheries, this is often accomplished by integrating data from multiple sources, requiring additional quality assurance and quality control (QAQC) processes prior to analysis. Challenges exist in both these processes; the data being collected need to be correct and free of observer-specific biases, and the analyses being applied to these data need to include standardized cleaning protocols. In the context of fisheries, quality assurance processes tackle a wide range of issues of varying difficulties, often rooted in accurate species identification. In quality control, subject experts with limited technical skills may recognize and/or address problems in their working data in a non-reproducible or localized way. Interactive user interfaces (UIs) provide a powerful, flexible way to manage these challenges, maximize QAQC effectiveness, and facilitate reproducibility.
09:40AM Break
1:10PM Dynamic Rshiny Applications to Support Gulf of Mexico Land Conservation
  Jiangdong Liu, Andrew Shamaskin, Sathishkumar Samiappan, Jennifer Roberts, Matt Heinemann, Kristine Evans, Anna Linhoss
The increasing use of web applications to provide visualizations of geospatial data has improved access to scientific information. Yet many applications lack capabilities in “on-the-fly” analytics. There is particular emphasis on development of user-friendly applications to deliver conservation advances on the U.S. Gulf of Mexico coast, particularly related to the influx of funds from the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States (RESTORE) Act. The Strategic Conservation Assessment of Gulf Coast Landscapes (SCA) project has embraced RShiny and associated applications to deliver a suite of analytical and mapping tools aimed to provide scientific support for Gulf Coast land conservation proposal development. The SCA toolset compiles priorities of existing Gulf conservation plans and uses an underlying geospatial data framework to perform either on-the-fly multi-criteria decision analysis or allows stakeholder-specified objective weighting schemes to evaluate relative strength of proposals for land conservation toward achieving RESTORE goals. The SCA toolset also provides scientifically-sound results in custom reporting features, which give permanence to user interaction with the RShiny applications. Development of RShiny tools has the potential to change the culture of Gulf land conservation through direct incorporation of ecological and socioeconomic values in the RESTORE goal context.
1:30PM An Interactive User Interface for Mapping and Prioritizing Migration Corridors
  Jerod Merkle
Researcher-developed tools to manage and conserve wildlife are regularly under-used by wildlife biologists. This disconnect is often due to sophisticated code necessary implement each tool. I demonstrate the importance of developing interfaces that connect wildlife biologists with quantitative tools. I outline the 10-year history of Migration Mapper (, an interactive user interface for mapping and prioritizing migration corridors of ungulates. The methods embedded in Migration Mapper were published in 2009, but at the time, were too technical to implement without specific code and software. In 2016, Wyoming Game and Fish Department adopted migration policy based on these methods, but only one researcher and not a single manager was using the method. Over the next year, I collaborated with that researcher and a cartographer to develop an interactive user interface using the R package Shiny. We launched the software in 2017, and conducted four workshops to train state biologists. In 2018, Secretarial Order 3362 was signed, tasking the Department of Interior to work with western states to improve habitat quality of big game migration corridors. With Migration Mapper in place, wildlife biologists are able to carry out the Secretarial Order and map migration corridors, providing building blocks for conserving ungulate migration.
1:50PM A Decision-Making Tool for Evaluating Biological and Statistical Thresholds for Survival Analysis of Migrating Fishes
  Alejandro Molina Moctezuma, Joseph Zydlewski
Quantifying the downstream survival of migrating fish past hydropower dams is critical for conservation efforts. Regulatory agencies often require survival estimation using telemetry Typically CJS modelling approaches are used to account for imperfect detection, thereby providing a point estimate and error structure. Failure to meet a standard (often repeatedly) may result in operational or structural changes at a facility, and further assessment. Establishing a standard, as rules for study interpretation, can be a point of contention between agencies and dam owners. Management standards are based on biological criteria, but there are inherent statistical and probabilistic trade-offs when choosing a standard value, the method for judging an outcome (e.g., pass or fail based on point estimate v. inclusion within confidence intervals), and the number of replications. Depending on survival, sample size, and the probability of detection, rules may bias results towards a “false pass” or a “false fail” neither of which is desirable. We distinguish the “biological” standard (true survival goal) from a “statistical” standard. We developed an interactive user interface in R-Shiny to explore the relationship between these standards using simulated data, that explores the relations between all variables and trade-offs.
2:10PM R Shiny As a Platform for Interactive and Dynamic in-Season Information on Fraser River Sockeye Salmon
  Eric Taylor, Merran Hague, Catherine Michielsens
In-season assessment of Fraser River sockeye salmon is one of the most data intensive assessment systems in the world. Daily observations from various test fisheries offer an important early indicator of the strength of the salmon run. The resulting information has been communicated daily with various interest groups through the website of the Pacific Salmon Commission (PSC). In the past, this resulted in daily updates of tables containing the daily test fishing information in pdf format. Through the use of Shiny by RStudio, the PSC is now able to offer the same information in an interactive and dynamic way. By visiting the webpage, individual users can now visualize the data and compare the current year’s test fishing data against previous years and against preseason expectations. Through the interactive use of the data, Shiny allows the different stakeholders to gain more knowledge and insights that can be used within the assessment and management process. From the PSC’s point of view, Shiny allows biologists to design and update interactive and dynamic web pages without relying on an expensive web design company.
2:30PM Utilization of Web Applications in a Salmon and Steelhead Monitoring and Recovery Program
  Zac Reinstein, Andrew Bartshire, Andrew McClary, Mariska Obedzinski
Salmon monitoring in the Russian River requires coordination of field activities across multiple agencies, management of thousands of landowner interactions, and providing stakeholders with real-time information. California Sea Grant’s Russian River Salmon and Steelhead Monitoring Program has developed a variety of web applications using RShiny and Esri products to achieve these goals. Project-specific web applications provide field crews with logistical insights in a spatial format (e.g., survey reach boundaries, landowner access permissions). Landowner communications are entered into a Survey123 form as they occur in the field, and when synced with the hosting database, become available to all users. For safety purposes, we enable supervisors to track daily progress of field crews by embedding the Spot Safety Device API in our applications. An integrated RShiny application allows crews and supervisors to quickly view in-season tabular data summaries and track stream survey conditions used for project planning. To provide stakeholders with in-season information about fish distribution and environmental conditions, we created a public-facing dashboard to make decisions regarding management actions such as fish rescues and streamflow augmentations. Use of these User Interfaces has facilitated improved efficiency in data collection, better landowner relations, and quicker and more effective management actions supporting salmon recovery.
2:50PM Refreshment Break
3:20PM A Stakeholder Engagement Tool to Explore Recreational Management Strategies for Red Snapper in the Gulf of Mexico.
  Fabio Caltabellotta, Zach Siders, Edward Camp, Elizabeth Pienaar, Kai Lorenzen, Robert Ahrens
The Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) fishery is contentious. The fishery has been intensively managed over recent decades in state and federal waters using a range of management strategies (e.g., season lengths, bag limits, size/slot limits and barotrauma reduction). Declining federal fishery season lengths have resulted in frustration within the recreational fishery community. New and innovative solutions that would allow stock recovery while meeting recreational angler needs are needed. A management strategy evaluation (MSE) framework and a user-friendly tool “Shiny App” were developed to allowed angler groups to explore and evaluate the relative effect of proposed management strategies to ensure a healthy of fish stock and at the same time allowing reasonable access to use this resource. The main components of the MSE framework is an age-and space structured biological operating model coupled with an effort dynamic model linked to a socio-economic and assessment/management models to provide full transparency when selecting optimal policies. This model will be used in stakeholder workshops to facilitate stakeholder understanding of the tradeoffs and improve model implementation and outputs. Here we present the model structure and some preliminary findings.
3:40PM Interactive Data Exploration of Smolt to Adult Return Rate (SAR) Timeseries for Salmonids in the Interior Columbia River Basin
  Brian Maschhoff
Smolt-to-Adult Return Rate (SAR) for anadromous species is the survival from a starting point as a smolt to an ending point as an adult, often reported as a percentage. In the Columbia River Basin (CRB), much effort has been directed at computing SARs for salmonids from the plethora of PIT-tag detection data available. Trends in SARs for a single cohort are difficult to interpret due to the many factors which contribute to mortality. Most studies are limited to a small subset of possible comparisons. Within the CRB, over two decades of SAR values can be computed for numerous populations and groups thereof, resulting in a large number of possible aggregations. Also, the PIT-tag release metadata can often be supplemented with data coincident with the detections, such as river flow. The challenge of selecting from the many possible comparisons has usually been met by either restricting the analysis to a small number of parameters or resorting to opaque modeling efforts. Presented here is a web-based tool which facilitates data exploration of SARs for salmonids, employing in-browser cross filtering and interactive display of SAR timeseries and associated confidence intervals for any possible combination of covariates, computed on demand.

Organizers: Alejandro Molina Moctezuma, Danielle Quinn

Location: Atlantis Hotel Date: September 30, 2019 Time: 8:00 am - 4:20 pm