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Advanced Courses in Life Sciences

3rd Edition

Mapping Trait Evolution

June 3rd-7th, 2019, Barcelona (Spain)


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Mapping Trait EvolutionCourse Overview

The course provides a comprehensive overview of the state-of-the-art methods in mapping phenotypic trait evolution and will provide participants with a springboard to using these methods to answering their own research questions.

We focus on analyses that use a phylogenetic tree and observed trait information from tip taxa (extant and/or extinct) to describe how traits have changed along the branches of a phylogeny. The course covers methods that estimate and test patterns related to changes in mean, covariation, and rate. Applications for continuous and categorical, and univariate and multivariate research designs are discussed.

At the end of this course, participants will have developed an understanding of:

(1) Brownian motion and Ornstein-Uhlenbeck models of evolution.

(2) How these models can be applied to estimate and test patterns of trait evolution.

(3) What the advantages and disadvantages are of different models/methods.

(4) How to recognize which model/method is most appropriate given a particular dataset and research question.

We provide several data sets that will be used to exemplify the application of these methods. We do, however, encourage participants to bring their own data so as to get direct experience with analysing precisely what they expect to analyse.

Methods from the following R packages will be discussed: ape, geiger, phytools, evomap, l1ou, bayou, surface, OUwie, mvMORPH, geomorph (this list may change as new packages become available).

Important note: Please bear in mind that this course is not about reconstructing (building) phylogenetic trees, the methods we cover in this course assume that a phylogeny is known.


Can Carol

C/ Font de la Reina, 5
08786 Capellades, Barcelona (Spain)

How to get there


June 3rd-7th, 2019




35 hours on-site.

This course is equivalent to 2 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) at the Life Science Zurich Graduate School.

The recognition of ECTS by other institutions depends on each university or school.


Places are limited to 20 participants and will be occupied by strict registration order.

Participants who have completed the course will receive a certificate at the end of it.


Jeroen Smaers instructor for Transmitting Science

Dr. Jeroen B. Smaers
Stony Brook University
United States of America

Carrie S. Mongle instructor for Transmitting Science

Carrie S. Mongle
Stony Brook University
United States of America


Soledad De Esteban-Trivigno instructor at Transmitting Science

Dr. Soledad De Esteban-Trivigno
Transmitting Science

Ana Rosa Gómez-Cano coordinator at Transmitting Science

Dr. Ana Rosa Gómez-Cano
Transmitting Science


Graduate or postgraduate degree in any Biosciences discipline. Knowledge of multivariate statistics.

A reminder of R-skills that are of particular relevance when applying phylogenetic comparative methods will be given the first day, though a medium level of R knowledge is needed for following the course (i.e. knowledge on how to load and save data, manipulate data frames, use basic plotting functions, and use functions to analyse data).

All participants must bring their own personal laptop (Windows, Macintosh, Linux).


Monday, June 3rd, 2019. (R packages: ape, Geiger).

  • Morning: Phylogenetic data.
    • What is the basic structure of phylogenetic data?
    • How to visualize and manipulate phylogenetic data?
  • Afternoon: Models of evolution.
    • What are models of evolution?
    • What are the assumptions of the different models of evolution?
    • How are models of evolution utilized?

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019. (R packages: ape, nlme, caper, evomap).

  • Morning: Phylogenetic regression.
    •  Assumptions, properties, and applications of the phylogenetic regression.
  • Afternoon: Phylogenetic ancova.
    • Testing for grade shifts using the phylogenetic regression.

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019. (R packages: phytools, motmot, geiger, ape, evomap, BayesTraits).

  • Morning: Ancestral estimation.
    • Using models of evolution to estimate values of ancestral nodes.
  • Afternoon: Analysis of rates of evolution.
    • Estimation of rates of evolution.
    • Testing hypothesis about rates of evolution.

Thursday, June 6th, 2019. (R packages: bayou, phylolm, surface, OUwie, mvMORPH).

  • Morning: Inferring the structure of a macroevolutionary landscape.
    • Using Ornstein-Uhlenbeck models to map macroevolutionary patterns.
  • Afternoon: Testing the structure of a macroevolutionary landscape.
    • Applications and assumptions of OU models.
    • Using OU models to test macroevolutionary hypotheses.

Friday, June 7th, 2019. (R packages: geomorph).

  • Morning: Modularity and integration.
    • What is ‘phylogenetic’ modularity and integration?
    • Applications and assumptions.
  • Afternoon: Case study.


  • Course Fee
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  • Early bird (until March 31st, 2019):
  • 535 *

    (428 for Ambassador Institutions)

  • Regular (after March 31st, 2019):
  • 675 *

    (564 for Ambassador Institutions)

  • This includes course material, coffee breaks and lunches (VAT included).
    * Participants from companies/industry will have an extra charge of 100 €.
  • Course Fee + Accommodation Package
  • {{content-1}}
  • Early bird (until March 31st, 2019):
  • 535 * + 330 = 865

    (758 for Ambassador Institutions)

  • Regular (after March 31st, 2019):
  • 675 * + 330 = 1,005

    (894 for Ambassador Institutions)

  • This includes course material, coffee breaks, transportation from and to Barcelona city, accommodation from Sunday to Friday, breakfasts, lunches and dinners (VAT included).
    * Participants from companies/industry will have an extra charge of 100 €.

You can check the list of Ambassador Institutions HERE. If you want your institution to become a Transmitting Science Ambassador please contact us at communication@transmittingscience.org.

Discounts (see Funding below) are not cumulative and apply only on the fee.

We offer the possibility of paying in two instalments (contact the course coordinators).


Accommodation Package

If you take the Accommodation Package you will be hosted in the Rural House Can Carol, in single-sex shared dormitories (2 – 4 people) with bathroom en-suite.

If the number of participants exceeds the available rooms at Can Carol, some of them could be accommodated in the Hotel Tall del Conill, by registration order. The hotel is at 10 minutes walking, although transport will be provided in the morning and after dinner. Lunches and dinners will be with the whole group.

A supplemental charge will be added if you prefer to stay in a single room.

Accommodation is included from Sunday (check-in) to Friday (check-out). Breakfast, lunch and dinner are also provided during the week, starting from the dinner of Sunday to lunch of Friday (included).

Other accommodation options

If you do not want the Accommodation Package, accommodation is available in places other than Can Carol: Where to stay near the Venue.

Rural House Can Carol

Rural House Can Carol (Capellades, Barcelona, Spain)

Rural House Can Carol

Rural House Can Carol (Capellades, Barcelona, Spain)

Rural House Can Carol

Rural House Can Carol (Capellades, Barcelona, Spain)


Course Schedule
  • Monday to Friday:
    • 9:30 to 13:30 Lessons.
    • 13:30 to 14:30 Lunch (included).
    • 15:00 to 18:30 Lessons.
Accommodation Package Schedule
  • Sunday:
    • 19:00 Meeting point in Plaza Catalunya (Barcelona) to take the bus to Els Hostalets de Pierola. If you are planning to arrive later, you can find more information in How to get there.
    • 20:00 Registration in the Hotel.
    • 20:30 Dinner.
  • Monday to Thursday:
    • 8:00 to 9:00 Breakfast.
    • 20:30 Dinner.
  • Friday:
    • 8:00 to 9:00 Breakfast.
    • 18:30 Meeting point in the Hotel to take the bus to Barcelona city.
    • 20:00 Arrival to Plaza Catalunya (Barcelona).

    The schedule is approximate; it is possible that the content of one day may run into the next and a working day may be longer than advertised.



Former participants will have a 5 % discount on the Course Fee.

Furthermore, a 20 % discount on the Course Fee is offered for members of some organizations (Organizations with discount). If you want to apply to this discount please indicate it in the Registration form (proof will be asked later).

Unemployed scientists living in Spain, as well as PhD students based in Spain without any grant or scholarship to develop their PhD, could benefit from a 40 % discount on the Course Fee. If you want to ask for this discount, please contact the course coordinator. That would apply for a maximum of 2 places and they will be covered by strict inscription order.

Discounts are not cumulative and apply only on the fee, not to Accommodation Package or other options.


Thanks to the donations of former participants, this year there are scholarships available for PhD students. The scholarships are in the form of tuition fee waivers only, they do not cover travelling and lodging.

If you want to apply please fill up this form. Deadline: February 28th, 2019. You should register for the course before applying.

Previous editions of this course


1st Edition, June 5th-9th, 2017

Course Mapping Trait Evolution - 1st Edition, June 5th-9th, 2017Twenty people belonging to the following countries and institutions participated in this edition:

  • United Kingdom: University of Manchester, Royal Botanic Gardens – Kew, Liverpool John Moores University, University of St Andrews, University of Cambridge.
  • Switzerland: University of Zurich, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology – Eawag.
  • Portugal: Instituto de Ciências e Tecnologias Agroambiente da Universidade do Porto, Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos – CIBIO-InBIO.
  • Austria: University of Innsbruck, Institute of Science and Technology, University of Vienna.
  • Spain: Universitat de Barcelona, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Estación Biológica de Doñana – CSIC, University of Santiago de Compostela.
  • United States of America: The Ohio State University, University of Maine.
  • France: French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development.


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