Live Online Course – An Introduction To Species Distribution Modelling In The Marine Environment

Live Online Training Course – An Introduction To Species Distribution Modelling (SDM) In The Marine Environment, 15th – 18th February 2020

GIS In Ecology will be holding a new online training course on species distribution modelling in the marine environment between the 15th and 18th of February 2021. It will be taught by Dr Colin D. MacLeod, the author of An Introduction To Species Distribution Modelling (SDM) Using QGIS and R and a renowned expert in using species distribution modelling in the marine environment. It is aimed at those who want to learn how to integrate GIS into their species distribution modelling projects. The course assumes that you have at least a basic knowledge of GIS, and is not aimed at complete beginners (if you are a complete beginner, you can attend our introductory online GIS course which will be held between the 25th and 28th of January 2021).

This course will be held using the Zoom video-conferencing platform. It will consist of four three-hour sessions, and one session will need to be completed each day. However, you will have a choice of completing it between 10:00 and 13:00 British Summer (primarily for those living in Europe, Asia and Africa) or 18:00 to 21:00 British Summer Time (primarily for those living in North and South America) .This choice of time slots for each session allows participants from as wide a range of time zones to participate in the course.

Each three-hour session will consist of a background talk covering a specific topic, followed by practical exercises based on instructions from one of our workbooks. While you are encouraged to remain online during the practical sessions, you can choose to go off-line as you work though the exercises (or if you need to take a break). However, if you have any questions, the course instructor will be available for you to ask any questions you wish at any point.

Species distribution modelling (also known as habitat modelling, predictive habitat modelling, ecological niche modelling, habitat suitability modelling and essential habitat modelling) is becoming increasingly widely used in marine biology. This course aims to provide an introduction to the concept and practical application of species distribution modelling (SDM) in the marine environment, and how to integrate species distribution modelling with GIS. This includes selection of environmental variables, the creation of raster data layers of environmental variables in a GIS-based environment, processing survey data in GIS, creating spatial visualisations and predictions from SDMs, and validating the predictive ability of SDMs. The practical sessions will involve working through a complete SDM project using an existing data set from start to finish, including creating an SDM using Generalised Additive Modelling (GAM). This means you do not need have your own data to attend. The practical sessions will be conducted in QGIS (our recommended option) or ArcGIS, and R (but no prior experience with R is required).

When you attend this course you will receive a free copy of An Introduction To Species Distribution Modelling (SDM) Using QGIS And R (GIS For Biologists Workbooks) as the practical exercises in that course are based on the ones contained in that book. NOTE: If you wish to use ArcGIS software for this course, the older ArcGIS version of this workbook (An Introduction To Using GIS In Marine Biology – Supplementary Workbook Three) will be provided instead.

Attendance will be limited to a maximum of 24 people. The fees for this course are GBP 250 per person (with a discounted rate of GBP 195 for students, the unwaged and those working for registered charities). To book a place, click on the button below to pay the course fees with a credit/debit card. For more information, or if you would prefer to pay using another method (such as a bank transfer), contact info@GISinEcology.com.

Please Note: If you choose to pay using the button below, please do not make any arrangements regarding your participation until you have received an email from us confirming your booking for a specific course (this may take a couple of days, depending on how busy we are).


Fee Options



At the end of the course, all attendees will receive a certificate of attendance and completion. Each certificate is embossed with the GIS In Ecology official stamp to prevent its fraudulent reproduction. In addition, each certificate has its own unique identification number that we will record, along with your name, meaning that we can verify the authenticity of the certificates we issue (and the course you have completed) on request.

To attend this course, you must have your own laptop computer with an appropriate GIS software package installed on it. Our recommended GIS software for this course is the freely available QGIS software. For those wishing to use QGIS, you will need to download and install QGIS 2.8.3 (for those using Windows computers) or 2.8.4 (for those using Macs) rather than the latest version. The best way to download the correct version of QGIS for this course is to use the links on our GIS For Biologists webpage, which can be found here. If you would prefer to use ESRI’s ArcGIS software instead of GIS, this can be accommodated, but please let us know at the time of booking that this is the option you would like to use.

In addition, you will also need to have spreadsheet software, such as Excel, on your computer. Finally, you will also need a working copy of the free statistical software package called R. This can be downloaded from here.