Instructors: Cori Myers, Alycia Stigall, Erin Saupe, Marlon Cobos, Jenny McGuire, Hannah Owens
Endorsed by: The Paleontological Society
This year’s short course will introduce participants to Ecological Niche Modeling (ENM), a technique that combines organismal occurrence data with environmental parameters to quantitatively estimate the environmental 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 due to the steep methodological learning curve. Thus, our goal 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. Introduction to the theoretical framework of ENMs and associated methods will support appropriate use of these techniques given the existing biases of fossil and ecological data; practical introductions to data collection, processing, and short tutorials will allow participants to apply ENM methods to real data with instructor support. The morning session will begin with introducing the conceptual framework, data collection, and methodological overview of ENMs and associated techniques. The late morning and afternoon sessions will be more hands-on, with invited speakers leading participants through guided tutorials in key methods using the R programming environment. Participants should bring their laptops.