Integrating Ecological Forecasting into Undergraduate Ecology Curricula with an R Shiny Application-Based Teaching Module

Schematic of the iterative, near-term ecological forecasting (INTEF) cycle used in the module to teach ecological forecasting to students.


Ecological forecasting is an emerging approach to estimate the future state of an ecological system with uncertainty, allowing society to better manage ecosystem services. Ecological forecasting is a core mission of the U.S. National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) and several federal agencies, yet, to date, forecasting training has focused on graduate students, representing a gap in undergraduate ecology curricula. In response, we developed a teaching module for the Macrosystems EDDIE (Environmental Data-Driven Inquiry and Exploration; educational program to introduce ecological forecasting to undergraduate students through an interactive online tool built with R Shiny. To date, we have assessed this module, “Introduction to Ecological Forecasting,” at ten universities and two conference workshops with both undergraduate and graduate students (N = 136 total) and found that the module significantly increased undergraduate students’ ability to correctly define ecological forecasting terms and identify steps in the ecological forecasting cycle. Undergraduate and graduate students who completed the module showed increased familiarity with ecological forecasts and forecast uncertainty. These results suggest that integrating ecological forecasting into undergraduate ecology curricula will enhance students’ abilities to engage and understand complex ecological concepts.

Forecasting (4)

All teaching materials for this module are available here.

Tadhg N. Moore
Tadhg N. Moore
Senior Lake Scientist

My research interests include environmental data analysis, lake modelling and water education.