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Warning! The directory is not yet complete and will be amended until the beginning of the term.

300108 UE Macroecology and spatial phylogenetics of animals (2021S)

5.00 ECTS (3.00 SWS), SPL 30 - Biologie
Continuous assessment of course work


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


max. 9 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

[UPDATE 08-APR-2021]

Course will be held online on BigBlueButton via moodle.

[UPDATE 01-MAR-2021]

The initial meeting will be held online. Participants should have received an email with the details.

We intend to teach this course on-site if possible according to the applicable anti-Covid19 measures at the respective time.

Wednesday 03.03. 12:15 - 13:00 Digital
Monday 12.04. 09:00 - 17:00 Digital
Tuesday 13.04. 09:00 - 17:00 Digital
Wednesday 14.04. 09:00 - 17:00 Digital
Thursday 15.04. 09:00 - 17:00 Digital
Friday 16.04. 09:00 - 17:00 Digital


Aims, contents and method of the course

In this course students will learn how to use molecular phylogenies in conjunction with distributional data to tackle questions in the fields of macroecology and spatial phylogenetics. Species diversity and phylogenetic diversity measures will be combined with climate and topographic data in a geographic grid-based approach using GIS applications and subsequent analysis with custom R scripts. Students will be instructed how to interpret their results and extract the relevant conclusions. Issues in dealing with large and complex datasets will be discussed, practical solutions presented and applied. Target organisms are terrestrial arthropods (e.g. butterflies) and vertebrates (e.g birds, mammals).

The following aspects will be treated in particular:

1. Students will be introduced to basic concepts in the fields of macroecology and spatial phylogenetics.
2. Strategies and methods for data acquisition (e.g. climate, topography, species distribution) from online databases will be discussed and applied
3. Students will be introduced to the use of GIS applications for spatial analysis
4. Results obtained in the course will be discussed and their interpretation and limitations explored.

Students are asked to bring their own laptop computer to the course, since there is limited capacity to accommodate students unable to do so. Please approach the instructors at the initial meeting if you are unable to bring your own computer. Systems running under Windows, MacOS and Linux are equally suitable for this course. Prior knowledge of R or GIS applications is not required.

The following seminar is a perfect companion to this course: „300124 SE Current topics in macroecology, biogeography and spatial biodiversity research“. Participation in the seminar is however in no way required for successful completion of the course or vice versa.

Assessment and permitted materials

Students will work in teams of two, with each group working on a different dataset provided by the instructors.

Students are expected to actively participate in the course, show initiative in problem solving and search for literature relevant to their topic.

Students are expected to show their ability to discern relevant aspects of the results obtained in the course and condense those into a written report where the results are presented and interpreted in relation to the published literature. The report is to be written in English; length approximately 4000 to 6000 words. Further instructions will be provided on the first course day.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

The following criteria apply in order to receive a passing grade:

1. Active participation
2. Submission of a written report; initial draft no later than May 31st 2021; final version no later than June 30th 2021
3. Attendance is mandatory on all days including the initial meeting on March 3rd. A maximum of one day of absence is permitted.

Contribution to final grade:
30% Active participation
70% Written report

Examination topics

Reading list

See the following publication for further clarification of the course’s content:

Earl C, Belitz MW, Laffan SW, Barve V, Barve N, Soltis DE, Allen JM, Soltis PS, Mishler BD, Kawahara AY, Guralnick R 2020. Spatial phylogenetics of butterflies in relation to environmental drivers and angiosperm diversity across North America.
bioRxiv 2020.07.22.216119; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.07.22.216119

Association in the course directory

MEC-9, MZO W-2, MZO W-7, M-WZB

Last modified: Fr 14.05.2021 11:08