In statistical ecology a specific data structure, e.g. resulting from a common survey method, often motivates both statistical methodology and software development. The specific survey method as well as the statistical methodology adapt to the practicality of data collection but do not directly reflect the underlying ecological process of interest. This results in highly specialised modelling approaches and, at the same time, little exchange among the developers of the different strands of methodology.
In this talk we discuss how thinking in terms of the processes that we would like to model rather than thinking in terms of the survey method can yield a flexible class of models. Specifically, the ecological processes of interest here are the structures formed by individuals in space and time, reflecting the individuals interaction among each other and with the environment.