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Advanced Courses in Life Sciences

2nd Edition

Introduction to Evolutionary Quantitative Genetics

April 8th-12th, 2019, Barcelona (Spain)

Genetics and Genomics

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Introduction to Evolutionary Quantitative Genetics

Course overview

The rate and direction of adaptive evolution critically depends on the additive genetic variances and covariances underlying the traits subject to selection. As a consequence, understanding the genetic basis of complex morphological, life-history, physiological, ornamental and behavioural traits is crucial if we are to understand their evolutionary potential, and the evolutionary process in general.

Quantitative genetics uses the phenotypic resemblance among related individuals to infer the role of genes and the environment in shaping phenotypic variation. Depending on the species, we can use data obtained from breeding experiments in captivity (e.g. insects), or from individual-based monitoring programs in the wild (e.g. birds and mammals). Especially the latter has benefited greatly from the application of animal model methodology, originally developed in animal breeding to identify individuals of high genetic merit. By simultaneously using the resemblance among all individuals in the pedigree, these methods provide more precise and accurate estimates of genetic and non-genetic variance components (heritabilities and genetic correlations). Furthermore, they allow for the estimation of individual-level genetic effects (breeding values), and thereby the inference of evolution.

In this course we will cover everything from basic quantitative genetic theory and statistics to advanced mixed model-based approaches. You will learn how to estimate genetic variances and covariances in wild and captive populations, and how to test for evolutionary change. Along the way, you will be exposed to the main software packages, and the R packages MCMCglmm and ASReml-R in particular, and you will learn about their strengths and weaknesses. You are strongly encouraged to bring your own data (if you have it), which you will be able to work on during the course and which will allow you to put the theory into practice.


Can Carol

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

How to get there


April 8th-12th, 2019




32 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.


Erik Postma instructor for Transmitting Science

Dr. Erik Postma
University of Exeter
United Kingdom

Jesús Martínez-Padilla instructor for Transmitting Science

Dr. Jesús Martínez-Padilla
Universidad de Oviedo


Soledad De Esteban-Trivigno instructor at Transmitting Science

Dr. Soledad De Esteban-Trivigno
Transmitting Science

Jesús Martínez-Padilla instructor for Transmitting Science

Dr. Jesús Martínez-Padilla
Universidad de Oviedo

Ana Rosa Gómez-Cano coordinator at Transmitting Science

Dr. Ana Rosa Gómez-Cano
Transmitting Science

Contact: ts.courses@transmittingscience.org


Graduate or postgraduate degree in any Biosciences discipline. All participants must bring their own personal laptop (Windows, Macintosh, Linux).

While some knowledge of R (e.g. importing and manipulating data) is required, you do not need any previous experience with quantitative genetics and animal models.


Monday, April 8th, 2019. Introduction into quantitative genetics.

  • Morning:
    • Quantitative genetic theory.
      • From single loci with two alleles to the infinitesimal model.
      • Additive and non-additive genetic variance.
      • Quantifying relatedness and inbreeding.
      • Heritability and genetic correlations.
      • Evolvability.
    • Basic statistics.
      • Correlation.
      • Regression.
      • ANOVA.
    • Estimating heritabilities, Part I.
      • Parent-offspring regression.
      • Fullsib/halfsib analysis.
  • Afternoon:
    • Practical.
      • Simulate data on parents and offspring.
      • Estimate heritabilities using parent-offspring regression and ANOVA.

Tuesday, April 9th, 2019. Mixed models, pedigrees and animal models.

  • Morning:
    • Advanced statistics.
      • Mixed models.
    • Estimating heritabilities, Part II.
      • Mixed model analysis of halfsib data.
    • Practical.
      • Analyse simulated data with mixed model (continuation of Monday afternoon).
  • Afternoon:
    • Pedigree reconstruction.
      • Observational and marker-based.
      • Pedigree errors.
      • Software.
      • Descriptive statistics.
      • Visualisation.
    • Analysis of own (or simulated) data.

Wednesday, April 10th, 2019. The animal model.

  • Morning:
    • Estimating heritabilities, Part III.
      • The animal model.
      • Software.
    • Practical.
      • Animal model tutorials ASReml-R and/or MCMCglmm.
  • Afternoon:
    • Analysis of own (or simulated) data.

Thursday, April 11th, 2019. Advanced topics.

  • Morning:
    • Multivariate models.
      • G matrix estimation.
      • Genotype-environment interactions.
      • Intersexual genetic correlations.
    • Random regression.
    • Breeding values.
      • Prediction.
      • Inferring evolution.
  • Afternoon:
    • Analysis of own (or simulated) data.

Friday, April 12th, 2019.

  • Morning:
    • Presentations.


  • Falconer DS, Mackay TFC (1996) Introduction to quantitative genetics, Prantice Hall, Harlow, United Kingdom, 4th Edition.
  • Lynch M, Walsh B (1998) Genetics and analysis of quantitative traits, Sinauer, Sunderland, MA, United States.
  • Kruuk LEB (2004) Estimating genetic parameters in natural populations using the ‘animal model’. Phil Trans R Soc Lond B, 359: 873-890.
  • Kruuk LEB, Slate J, Wilson AJ (2008) New answers for old questions: The evolutionary quantitative genetics of wild animal populations. Annu Rev Ecol Evol Syst, 39: 525-548.
  • Wilson AJ, Réale D, Clements MN, Morrissey MM, Postma E, Walling CA, Kruuk LEB, Nussey DH (2010) An ecologist’s guide to the animal model. J Anim Ecol, 79: 13-26.
  • Charmantier A, Garant D, Kruuk LEB (2014) Quantitative genetics in the wild, Oxford University Press, Oxford, United Kingdom.


  • Course Fee
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  • Early bird (until January 31st, 2019):
  • 510 *
  • Regular (after January 31st, 2019):
  • 640 *
  • 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
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  • Early bird (until January 31st, 2019):
  • 510 *+ 330 = 840
  • Regular (after January 31st, 2019):
  • 640 * + 330 = 970
  • 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 €.

20 % discount will be applied to your fee If you belong to any of the Institutions listed HERE. 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 coordinator).


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 Thursday:
    • 9:30 to 13:30 Lessons.
    • 13:30 to 14:30 Lunch (included).
    • 14:30 to 17:30 Lessons.
Accommodation Package Schedule
  • Sunday:
    • 19:00 Meeting point in Plaza Catalunya (Barcelona) to take the bus to Capellades. If you are planning to arrive later, you can find more information on How to get there.
    • 20:00 Arrival to the Hotel.
    • 20:30 Dinner.
  • Monday to Thursday:
    • 8:00 to 9:00 Breakfast.
    • 20:00 Dinner.
  • Friday:
    • 8:00 to 9:00 Breakfast.
    • 15:00 Meeting point at the Hotel to take the bus to Barcelona city.
    • 16:30 Arrival at 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.


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