Welcome to the Barefoot Ecologist's Toolbox
The name of this website comes from a 2003 paper (Prince, 2003) which recognized the problem of managing large numbers of micro-stocks and fishers with limited government or institutional capacity, and highlighted the need for barefoot ecologists who are 'pragmatic generalists, skilled in the multiple disciplines required to work effectively with micro-stocks and in diverse fishing communities'.
In addition to having the necessary quantitative and scientific skills, the barefoot ecologists need to be armed with toolboxes. Prince (2003) envisaged that this toolbox might be a hand-held computer programmed with a range of useful tools.
The development of relatively low-cost, but high-powered, 'smart phones' and 'tablets' toward the end of the first decade of this century, and the dramatically reduced costs of laptop computers, has meant that such hand-held computer systems are now widely available.
This website uses recent developments in open-source software packages to provide a range of user-friendly interactive tools for Barefoot Ecologists around the world.
R is a free environment for statistical computing and graphics, and, in fisheries science, is one of the most common used software packages for analysing data. While it is freely, available, the R language can be difficult to learn, and many practitioners may be interested in using the models to analyse or explore data, but have little interest or need to learn the R software.
The recently developed Shiny package has made it possible to create user-friendly applications that use the computational power of R together with the interactivity of modern web browsers. A major advantage of this approach is that it allows a simple, user-friendly interface for using models built in R without having to interact directly with the R software.
An additional benefit of using R and Shiny is the applications can be downloaded to a personal machine, and run locally without any connection to the Internet (after the initial download).
This means the Barefoot Ecologists can use the website to build their own portable toolbox, and use the applications in locations or conditions where the Internet is not available.
Users who are interested in more details of the models can download the files and dive into the code to understand exactly how the methods work.
The Shiny package has generated considerable excitement in the fisheries science community, and the potential and power of these tools is being increasingly recognized.
We aim to continue to develop additional Shiny applications and add them to the website. We welcome collaboration from other fisheries scientists or people with an interest in developing fisheries-science related applications or other useful content for the Barefoot Ecologist's Toolbox.
The LBSPR Shiny application is based on an earlier PHP-based version that was developed as part of the USAID IMACS project. Their support is gratefully acknowledged.
About the Site
This site is built with a collection of open-source software packages, and is only possible due to the generosity and hardwork of many people and organisations.
Of course, the Shiny apps themselves run in R, a free software environment for statistical computing and graphics.
Many thanks to all involved in developing and maintaining these fantastic resources. And a big shout-out to the R and the Shiny communities, particularly on StackOverflow (R and Shiny), whose collective efforts ensure that creative solutions are shared or invented for every imaginable problem.