Gavin Melville

Research interests

  • Forestry sampling methodology
  • Wildlife surveys
  • Transect/quadrat sampling theory
  • Survey design and analysis


Gavin Melville is a Senior Research Scientist (Biometrics) and works as a consulting biometrician at the Trangie Agricultural Research Centre. His activities include design of agricultural experiments, data analysis, survey design and statistical research.

Gavin joined NSW Agriculture (NSW DPI) in 1991 as a biometrician and undertakes research into sampling methodology, including issues related to forestry surveys, surveys of wildlife and plant ecology sampling. He has over 30 years of statistical experience including time with the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Commonwealth Department of Health and Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. He has written over 130 scientific papers, 40 per cent of which are in peer-reviewed publications.


  • B Sc  (Statistics)
  • M Litt (Applied Maths)
  • Grad Dip (Statistics)
  • PhD (Sampling)

Current projects

  • Application of LiDAR to forestry surveys
  • Improvements in mark-recapture estimation
  • Model-based and design-based sampling strategies
  • Environmental sampling

Recent publications

Melville GJ and Stone C. (2016) Optimizing nearest neighbour information – a simple efficient strategy for forestry plot imputation using remotely sensed data. Australian Forestry, 79:3. 217-228. doi: 10.1080/00049158.2016.1218265

Melville GJ, Stone C and Rombouts J. Survey designs which maximize efficiency gains in ALS-based forestry plot imputation. Proceedings of Spatial Accuracy 2016, pp52-59, Montpellier, 5-8 July, 2016.

Bean JM, Melville GJ, Hacker RB, Anderson S, Whittington A, and Clipperton SP. (2016) Effects of fenced seed production areas and restoration treatments on the size and composition of the native grass seedbanks in moderately-degraded rangelands in semiarid Australia. The Rangeland Journal, 38, 47-56. doi:10.1071/RJ15065

Melville GJ, Welsh AH and Stone C. (2015) Improving the efficiency and precision of tree counts in pine plantations using airborne LiDAR data and flexible radius plots: model-based and design-based approaches. Journal of Agricultural Biological & Environmental Statistics, 20(2), 229-257. doi: 10.1007/s13253-015-0205-6

Melville GJ, Stone C and Turner R. (2015) Application of LiDAR data to maximize the efficiency of inventory samples in softwood plantations. New Zealand Journal of Forest Science, 45:9, 1-16. doi: 10.1186/s40490-015-0038-7

Waters CM, Melville GJ, Orgill SE and Alemseged Y. (2015) The relationship between soil organic carbon and soil surface characteristics in the semi-arid rangelands of southern Australia. The Rangeland Journal, 37(3), 297-307. doi: 10.1071/RJ14119

Bean JM, Melville GJ, Hacker RB and Clipperton SP. (2015) Seed availability, suitability and the regeneration of perennial grasses in moderately-degraded rangelands in semi-arid Australia. The Rangeland Journal, 37, 249-259.

Melville GJ and Welsh AH. (2014) Model-based prediction in ecological surveys including those with incomplete detection. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Statistics, 56(3), 257-281. doi: 10.1111/anzs.12084

Cowling A and Melville G (2013) 'Line-transect sampling, new approaches' in Encyclopedia of Environmetrics Second Edition, A.-H. El-Shaarawi and W. Piegorsch (eds). John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester, UK, pp. 1482-1484. DOI: 10.1002/9780470057339.val013.pub2.

Kilgour RJ, Uetake K, Ishiwata T and Melville GJ (2012) The behaviour of beef cattle at pasture. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 138, 12-17.

Melville G, Welsh A, Fleming P and Russell B (2011) Aerial survey population estimates – contributions to variance. Australasian Applied Statistics Conference, Palm Cove, 12-15 July, 2011.

Alemseged Y, Hacker RB, Smith WJ & Melville GJ (2011) Temporary cropping in semi-arid shrublands increases native perennial grasses. Rangeland Journal, 33, 67-78.

Hacker RB, Toole ID and Melville GJ (2011) Effects of nitrogen and phosphorous on vegetation dynamics of a degraded native grassland in semi-arid south-eastern Australia. Rangeland Journal, 33, 87-97.

Waters C, Melville G, Coates D, Virgona J, Young A and Hacker R (2011) Variation in morphological traits among and within populations of Austrodanthonia caespitosa (Gaudich.) H.P. Linder and four related species. Australian Journal of Botany, 59(4), 324-335.

Speirs SD, Cattle, SR and Melville GJ (2011) The impact of irrigation water Na+ on the structural form of a black vertisol and a red vertisol used for cotton production. Soil Research, 49(6), 481-493.

Waters CM, Melville G and Jacobs S (2009) Association of five Austrodanthonia species (family Poaceae) with large and small scale environmental features in central western New South Wales. Cunninghamia, 11(1), 65-80.

Bowman A, Alemseged Y, Melville G, Smith W and Syrch F (2009) Increasing the perennial grass component of native pastures through grazing management in the 400-600 mm rainfall zone in central western NSW. The Rangeland Journal, 32; 1-8.

Melville G, Tracey JP and Fleming PJS and Lukins BS (2008) Aerial surveys of multiple species: critical assumptions and sources of bias in distance and mark-recapture estimators. Wildlife Research, 35(4); 310-319.

Tracey JP, Fleming PJS and Melville GJ (2008) Accuracy of some aerial survey estimators: contrasts with known numbers. Wildlife Research, 35(4); 377-384.

Tracey JP, Fleming PJS, and Melville GJ (2005) Does variable probability of detection compromise the use of indices in aerial surveys of medium-sized mammals? Wildlife Research, 32; 245-252.

Melville GJ and Welsh AH (2005) Rejoinder to “Line Transect Sampling in Small and Large Regions”. Biometrics, 61; 859-861.

Melville GJ and Welsh AH (2002) Estimating Species Abundance in Encyclopaedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS), Developed under the Auspices of the UNESCO, Eolss Publishers, Oxford, UK. []

Hall P, Melville G, Welsh AH (2001) Bias correction and bootstrap methods for a spatial sampling scheme. Bernoulli, 7(6); 829-846.

Melville GJ, and Welsh AH (2001) Line transect sampling in small regions. Biometrics, 57(4); 1130-1137.

Professional associations and activities

  • Member of the Statistical Society of Australia
  • Astat accreditation

Fields of research

010404 Applied Statistics

Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC)

Keyword/phrase list of research interests

  • Ecological sampling
  • Forestry sampling
  • Wildlife surveys
  • Survey methodology

Contact details