PS 2022 Short Course on Ecological Niche Modeling

Ecological Models Applied to Fossil Data

When: Saturday, October 8th from 8am to 5pm.
Where: Denver, CO Convention Center 
Who:  Everyone interested in learning about how to use and understand niche modeling methods for paleontological datasets. 
Registration: Not required, Free to everyone!
Instructors: Cori Myers, Alycia Stigall, Erin Saupe, Marlon Cobos, Jenny McGuire, Hannah Owens

This year’s short course will introduce participants to Ecological Niche Modeling (ENM) is a technique that combines organismal occurrence data with environmental parameters to quantitatively estimate the ecological niches of taxa. This approach and its derivative methods can be used to test a wide variety of hypotheses about the relationship of earth-life change through time within the remit of macroevolution, ecology, and biogeography. 

ENM methods are widely employed for modern taxa and highly applicable to fossil data; however, these methods are presently underutilized in paleontology. This underutilization is partly due to the steep learning curve associated with becoming familiar with the theoretical and methodological framework for ENM. Our goal in this short course is to reduce the learning curve by providing participants with both the theoretical and practical skills necessary to understand and begin applying these methods to paleontological data. 

In this short course, we will introduce participants first to the theoretical framework that underpins ENM, followed by practical introductions to data collections and processing and short tutorials in which participants can learn to apply leading ENM methods that are applicable to fossil data. The morning session will begin with introducing the conceptual framework, data collection, and methodological overview for niche modeling; whereas the late morning and afternoon sessions will be more hands-on, with invited speakers leading the participants through guided tutorials in key methods using the R programming environment. Participants should bring their laptops.

Organizers: Erin Saupe, Cori Myers, Alycia Stigall

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