Help & Support2020-05-11T18:54:41+00:00

If you are a user of the software distributed by the Species Conservation Toolkit Initiative (SCTI), please consider registering with at least some minimal information, so that we can better meet your needs. Registering also allows you to log in and access our eLearning Portal,

Information that you provide will be used by SCTI only for the purposes of helping us to understand better where and how the software tools are being used and to allow us notify you (if you so choose) of major upgrades. The data you provide will not be shared with any other organizations for any purpose.

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How To Get Help

Have a question?

  • Did the program crash? Could you get it to run?

  • Are you confused by the results?

  • How do I… ?

Follow the steps on this page to get help!

Go To Documentation
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Contact SCTI

We are currently constructing a training page with eLearning courses to help you learn to use our software. Please register as a user of our software and subscribe to one of our email lists or listservs to be notified when the training page is available.

If you are stuck, please try the following steps to resolve your question.

  1. Confirm that you’re using the most recent version (check our Downloads page to be sure). Uninstall all old versions before installing the latest version.
  2. Look through the FAQ section on this page.
  3. Read the manual carefully. Look through technical documents or examples if available. All of these items can be found on the Downloads page.
  4. Check the listserv archive to see if the question has already been asked. You can find info on the listserv in the Community section of this page.
  5. Document the question in detail (see below for items to include) and submit it to the community via the appropriate listserv. Several of our tools have active and experienced user communities, and many of these expert users kindly provide answers to questions posted on our listservs.
    • What operating system version are you using? Example: Windows 10
    • Which version of the SCTI software are you using? Example: Vortex version
    • Specific details of what you are trying to do (section of the software being used, feature on that section, characteristics of the data in question, etc.).
    • Screenshots with examples of what you are doing and of any error messages.
    • Input files you’re using. Make sure to mention if it’s a specific individual or piece of the input file that’s associated with the question.
  6. If you don’t get an answer from the community, contact SCTI with your documented question ( Please be aware that SCTI is a very small group and we receive many more questions than we’re able to respond to. Your chance of getting a response is much better if your question is thoroughly documented and you’ve already tried the previous steps listed above.

Bug Reporting

If you encounter a problem in the software that you believe might be due to a bug, please follow the steps below. We cannot guarantee that we will have the time or ability to respond to all bug reports, but we appreciate being notified of problems.

  1. Confirm that you are using the latest version of the program. (The bug might already have been fixed!)
  2. Document to the extent possible the conditions that triggered the bug. (What were you doing when it happened?)
  3. If possible, save a screen capture of the program display that shows the problem or the error message that was triggered.
  4. Save a copy of the input file with project settings that shows the problem.
  5. Send an email to with the following information:
    • Your name (Your name and email address will be used confidentially only if we need to contact you for more information about the problem)
    • Software and version where the problem was encountered (Vortex, Vortex AdaptiveManager, Outbreak, MetaModelManager, or PMx)
      • Version number can be found on the splash screen
    • Operating System (Windows7, Windows8, Windows10, other?)
    • Description of the problem (Please be as specific as possible)
    • Insert any screen shots (program displays or error messages) that show the problem
    • Add any attachments that would help to document the problem, including project files

Suspect you’ve found a bug?

  • Results don’t make sense or aren’t as expected?

  • Something is wrong or missing in the user interface?

  • You’re getting an error message and the program crashes?

Report a Bug

Frequently Asked Questions

I can’t get the software to open and run. What can I try?2020-11-04T15:26:24+00:00
  • If you have previously been able to open and use the software, it’s possible the file that tracks your recent projects has been corrupted. You can try deleting this file and allowing the software to regenerate it. The recents.txt file is usually found at C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Local\Species Conservation Toolkit Initiative\[ProgramName]\recent.txt
  • Make sure your project path, including filename, doesn’t exceed Microsoft’s limit for path length (about 255 characters). Example path: C:\Users\YourName\VortexProjectsFolder\VOutput\ProjectName_ScenarioName_PopulationName.dat.
  • Try running the software as an administrator. Right-click on the software icon and select ‘Run as Administrator’.
How can I get started with Vortex?2020-08-07T16:36:23+00:00

First of all, there is an excellent user manual for Vortex located here:

A good place to start is reading the Simulation Input section of the manual (starting page 19), which will help you to think about the information you will need to build a model in Vortex for your species.

To help you to think about the kinds of questions that the models can help answer, and the potential outputs that you will be able to produce, you can find reports from previous modeling projects on the IUCN Conservation Planning Specialist Group’s website: You can filter your search by region or taxonomic group to help you find models that are relevant to your project.

We also have a list of scientific publications using Vortex available on this website:

I need something in between PMxLite and PMx. Is it possible for me to customize which features are hidden?2020-08-07T16:36:23+00:00

PMx (and PMxLite) Version 1.6.2. 2020052 now offers a menu option to customize the features and options that appear when you open PMx (or PMxLite) on your computer. This can be useful for creating a version of the user interface that is specific to your needs as a population manager, researcher, teacher, or student. A user guide on how to use the Customize PMx option is available on our Downloads page!

Can I still open projects in PMxLite that I previously created in older versions of the full PMx?2020-08-07T16:36:23+00:00

Yes, you can open previously saved PMx project in the streamlined PMxLite user interface. Any advanced settings or options that were applied when the project was saved in PMx will be retained when the project is opened in PMxLite.

For example, assume you created and saved a PMx project with age classes specified as months rather than years (an advanced option hidden in PMxLite). This project will open in PMxLite with age classes still specified as months, but the advanced option to adjust age class length will be hidden in the PMxLite user interface.

Are PMxLite projects also saved in my “PMxProjects” folder?2020-08-07T16:36:23+00:00

Yes, the default location for saved PMx and PMxLite projects is in your “PMxProjects” folder unless you specify a different location while saving. The “PMxProjects” folder is created automatically during installation (usually in C:\PMxProjects). Uninstalling and reinstalling PMx will not remove your existing saved projects.

Can I have PMx and PMxLite installed on my computer at the same time?2020-08-07T16:36:23+00:00

Yes, PMxLite is included with the PMx installation package (Version or newer).

How do I download PMxLite?2020-08-07T16:36:23+00:00

PMxLite is included with the PMx installation package (Version or newer). If you have an older PMx version installed, uninstall the prior version before reinstalling. Download and run the PMxInstallation.msi from PMx can be installed in the default location (usually C:\Program Files (x86)\Species Conservation Toolkit Initiative\PMx) or in any location on your hard disk. Once installed, PMx and PMxLite shortcuts will appear on your desktop.

Can the software be installed on a drive other than C:?2020-08-07T16:36:23+00:00

Yes. These programs can be installed anywhere on your system. During installation you will be prompted for where you would like the software and data to be stored.

How do you install Spatial?2020-08-07T16:36:23+00:00

To install Spatial, all that you need to do is to unzip the file into some folder on your computer. No additional installation is needed! After you’ve unpacked the zip file simply run Spatial.exe to get started.

Where are the manuals for SCTI software?2020-08-07T16:36:24+00:00
Can SCTI software run on a Mac or Linux computer?2020-09-02T15:22:29+00:00

SCTI tools have so far only been developed for Windows-based systems. Presently only 2 options exist to use SCTI tools on non-Windows computers:

  1. Install a Windows virtual machine using VirtualBox or Fusion or Parallels
  2. Specifically with a Mac, Windows can be installed as a second operating system using BootCamp.

For either of the above options, after Windows is running as either a second operating system or virtual machine, SCTI tools can be installed and ran normally.

It is also possible to use cloud-based virtual machines provided by services such as Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure.

Is the code for available as open source?2020-08-07T16:36:24+00:00

Not yet, we have a couple of obstacles to get over before we can publish the source code. First, the User Interfaces were compiled using commercial 3rd party tools which make publishing that part of the code an issue. Secondly, due to various organizational protocols at our sponsor organizations we have yet to migrate from a protected software management solution inside of CZS’s network to repositories like SourceForge or Github.

The software crashes when I run the new version with an error about missing files2020-08-07T16:36:24+00:00

This issue seen most often when updating from a fairly old build to the newest release and is usually caused by Windows not fully understanding the total structure of the software. This is quickly solved by first uninstalling the old version, downloading and installing the newest version, and then rebooting.

Why do I get a warning about a bad or missing certificate (or unknown publisher) when downloading2020-08-07T16:36:24+00:00

You can safely ignore certificate warnings during installation. We are currently looking into getting code-signing certificates for SCTI but as of yet do not have that setup


Many people around the world use SCTI tools to help guide conservation assessment and wildlife management. Although the manuals provides background material and an explanation of data entry, technical details and discussion of how to interpret results are not readily available. SCTI has established email discussion groups (listservs) to provides a forum for our users to ask questions of colleagues, provide answers, describe interesting applications of the tools, or raise issues.

These listservs are unmoderated and open to anyone who wishes to participate. The list administrator will permanently block from the list any subscribers who send offensive messages, extraneous messages that would obviously be of no interest to SCTI tool users, or advertisements for products (other than perhaps add-ons and upgrades such as R packages designed to be used with SCTI tool output).

Subscribe to a listserv!

Thanks to the University of Chicago for administering our listservs!
SCTI Surveys
Software Updates

External Training Resources

The following links are for training resources developed and provided by SCTI contributors. Downloadable educational materials (training videos) and technical documentation (manuals and how-to guides for particular features of the software) produced by SCTI can be found on our Downloads page.

If your organization produces training materials for any SCTI software and you’d like us to link to them from our site, please send an email to

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