2016 Course on Species Distributions Modelling

January 1, 2016



We are organising the 3rd edition of the course “Species distributions models: concepts, methods, applications, and challenges”, which introduces the fundamental concepts underpinning ecological niche models (ENM), describing some of the most prominent methods currently in use, and discussing the strengths and limitations of these models for different applications. The course gives equal weight to theory and application. The students will have the opportunity to learn how to run ENM with the new SDM R platform (Naimi & Araújo 2016 Ecography) and they will be asked to bring their own data (if such data are not available we can provide our own data). During one day the students will analyse their data and prepare a small report for discussion in the class. The proposed course is the third after a first edition conducted at the Imperial College London (2014) and a second edition at Science Retreats in Évora (2015). It also builds on slightly shorter courses developed by Miguel Araújo at the University of Copenhagen and the Estación Biologica de Doñana (CSIC).


Course Objectives

In the end of the course, the students to be equipped equipped to:

1. Understand the theoretical underpinnings of ecological niche models

2. Understand the strengths and limitations of ecological niche models for different uses

3. Correctly design an ecological niche modelling study for a variety of uses

4. Get started with ecological niche modelling using SDM R.


Dates and logistics

The course will take place in the historical city of Évora, in Portugal, between the 4th and the 10th of July 2016.


Course length and ECTS

The course includes 56 hours on-site, including breaks. The course is equivalent to 5,6 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System), assuming the rule of 10:1, which means that 1 course lesson (=1 hour) gives 0.1 ECTS credits, taking a preparation factor of 1.5. Participants who have completed the course will receive a certificate of participation at the end of it.



Some experience in the computer language R is desirable, and experience with GIS is helpful. All participants must bring their own personal laptop.





Fees and Participation

The course fee is €740* to be paid by the 20th of May 2016 via bank transfer. The fee covers the lectures, the course material, including the early release of the software SDM-R and its manual, and an assortment of cookies and beverages over coffee breaks.


The course accepts a minimum of 10 students and maximum of 20 students selected according to their track record and the relevance of the course for their research or work.


* Notice that 23% VAT tax may apply on the registration fee. If you are applying from abroad (outside Portugal) and an institution covers the fee, then you should be exempt from the tax. However, a VAT number (if you are from the EU) or an equivalent institutional fiscal number from overseas must be supplied.


How to apply?

Send one PDF file including a description of how the course will benefit your research and/or work, and a short CV to scienceretreats  at gmail dot com. Applications must be received no later than the 8th of April 2016. Although the main targets of the course are postgraduate students at MSc or PhD level, we also encourage applications from professionals in related disciplines. Applications will be evaluated based on their relatedness to the course content. Successful candidates will be informed before the 22nd of April 2016.


Cancelation policy

If you wish to cancel your participation in this course, cancellations up to 20 days before the course start date will incur a 30% cancellation fee. For later cancellations, or non-attendance, the full course fee will be charged. In the unlikely event that the course is cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances, accepted candidates will either be entitled to a full refund of the course fee, or the fee can be credited toward a future course. The organisation is not responsible for travel costs, or any other expenses incurred by the candidate as a result of such cancellation. Every effort will be made to avoid the cancellation of the planned course.



Unfortunately we do not provide internal grants for this course. However, 20% discounts are offered to students or researchers affiliated with the University of Évora and/or the CIBIO-InBIO. If you would like to apply for such a discount please state the name of your organisation in your application (proof of affiliation will be requested). Unemployed scientists and self-funded Portuguese PhD students might also benefit from a 20% discount on the course fee, up to a maximum of two places. 


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