Ben Stevenson
Senior Lecturer

Department of Statistics
University of Auckland
Private Bag 92019
Auckland 1142
New Zealand

Office: Room 303.326
Phone: +64 9 923 8474

Research interests
  • Ecological statistics
  • Capture-recapture methods
  • Spatial statistics
  • Statistical computing


I am a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Statistics at the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

I completed BSc (Hons) and MSc degrees at the University of Auckland before moving to the University of St Andrews, United Kingdom, where I graduated with a PhD in 2016. I remained at St Andrews for a twelve-month research fellowship, joining this department in January 2017.

I develop statistical methods and software to estimate ecological parameters of interest, usually animal abundance or density. My recent work has met statistical challenges that arise when instruments like microphones, video-cameras, and drones are deployed to detect animals on wildlife surveys. New technologies have the potential to collect mountains of data at a low cost, but complicate estimation of ecological parameters because less information is encoded within each detection. For example, we can easily identify an individual on a live-trapping survey via a securely fixed ID tag, but perhaps cannot do so from a fleeting glimpse in a video.

I have additional research interests in spatial statistics, statistical computing, and applied statistics in general. My work in these areas sometimes overlaps with ecology, but has also led to publications in the fields of medicine and veterinary science.

My CV is available here.

Peer-reviewed publications

My Google Scholar citations page can be found here.
  • Stevenson, B. C., Fewster, R. M., and Sharma, K. (in press) Spatial correlation structures for detections of individuals in spatial capture-recapture models. Biometrics. (link)

  • Borchers, D. L., Nightingale, P., Stevenson, B. C., and Fewster, R. M. (in press) A latent capture history model for digital aerial surveys. Biometrics. (link)

  • Baron, H. R., Stevenson, B. C., and Phalen, D. N. (2021) Comparison of in-clinic diagnostic testing methods for Macrorhabdus ornithogaster. Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery, 35(1), 37–44. (link)

  • Stevenson, B. C., van Dam-Bates, P., Young, C. K. Y., and Measey, J. (2021) A spatial capture-recapture model to estimate call rate and population density from passive acoustic surveys. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 12(3), 432–442. (link)

  • Samaniego, A., Griffiths, R., Gronwald, M., Holmes, N. D., Oppel, S., Stevenson, B. C., and Russell, J. C. (2020) Risks posed by rat reproduction and diet to eradications on tropical islands. Biological Invasions, 22(4), 1365–1378. (link)

  • Baron, H. R., Stevenson, B. C., and Phalen, D. N. (2020) Inconsistent efficacy of water soluble Amphotericin B for the treatment of Macrorhabdus ornithogaster in a budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus) aviary. Australian Veterinary Journal, 98(7), 333–337. (link)

  • Stevenson, B. C., Borchers, D. L., and Fewster, R. M. (2019) Cluster capture-recapture to account for identification uncertainty on aerial surveys of animal populations. Biometrics, 75(1), 326–336. (link)

  • Baron, H. R., Leung, K. C. L., Stevenson, B. C., Sabater Gonzalez, M., and Phalen, D. N. (2019) Evidence of Amphotericin B resistance in Macrorhabdus ornithogaster in Australian cage-birds. Medical Mycology, 57(4), 421–428. (link)

  • Jones-Todd, C. M., Caie, P., Illian, J. B., Stevenson, B. C., Savage, A., Harrison, D. J., and Bown, G. L. (2019) Identifying prognostic structural features in tissue sections of colon cancer patients using point pattern analysis. Statistics in Medicine, 38(8), 1421–1441. (link)

  • Measey, G. J., Stevenson, B. C., Scott, T., Altwegg, R., and Borchers, D. L. (2017) Counting chirps: Acoustic monitoring of cryptic frogs. Journal of Applied Ecology, 54(3), 894–902. (link)

  • Kidney, D., Rawson, B. M., Borchers, D. L., Stevenson, B. C., Thomas, L., and Marques, T. A. (2016) An efficient acoustic density estimation method with human detectors applied to gibbons in Cambodia. PLoS ONE, 11(5), e0155066. (link)

  • Fewster, R. M., Stevenson, B. C., and Borchers, D. L. (2016) Trace-contrast models for capture-recapture without capture histories. Statistical Science, 31(2), 245–258. (link)

  • Borchers, D. L., Stevenson, B. C., Kidney, D., Thomas, L., and Marques, T. A. (2015) A unifying model for capture-recapture and distance sampling surveys of wildlife populations. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 110(509), 195–204. (link)

  • Stevenson, B. C., Borchers, D. L., Altwegg, R., Swift, R. J., Gillespie, D. M., and Measey, G. J. (2015) A general framework for animal density estimation from acoustic detections across a fixed microphone array. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 6(1), 38–48. (link)

  • Stevenson, B. C., and Millar, R. B. (2013) Promising the moon? Evaluation of indigenous and lunar fishing calendars using semiparametric generalized mixed models of recreational catch data. Environmental and Ecological Statistics, 20(4), 591–608. (link)

Current students

  • Rishika Chopara
    Goodness-of-fit for spatial capture-recapture models
    Cosupervisor: Rachel Fewster

  • Edy Setyawan
    Investigating the movement ecology, feeding behaviour, and genetic structure of a meta-population of reef manta rays Mobula alfredi in Raja Ampat, Indonesia
    Cosupervisors: Rochelle Constantine and Mark Erdmann

  • Pei (Zoe) Luo
    Two-phase subsampling designs for DNA sequencing, with an application to the relatedness in endangered species
    Cosupervisor: Thomas Lumley

  • David Chan
    Advancing spatial capture-recapture methods for acoustic surveys of cetacean populations
    Cosupervisor: Rachel Fewster

  • Markus Gronwald
    Behaviour of invasive rat species in low population densities on islands
    Cosupervisor: James Russell

BSc (Hons):
  • Jinxi (Simone) Zhang
    Fast, accurate approximations for spatial capture-recapture likelihoods
    Cosupervisor: Jing Liu

Click here for a list of available BSc (Hons) and MSc projects. This document may include some projects that are not yet on the list on the department's webpage. Please e-mail me or drop by my office if you are interested.



The R package ascr fits a range of acoustic spatial capture-recapture models. Find its homepage here.

The R package palm fits various point processes via maximisation of the Palm likelihood, and is available on CRAN. Find its homepage here.

Other software projects can be found on my GitHub page; see the link above.