• Advanced Courses in Life Sciences

    Header of Biogeography at Transmitting Science

Short Live Online Course – 2nd Edition

Species distribution models and fuzzy logic: Combining model predictions into threshold-free estimates of diversity and change

December 13th-15th, 2023

Live sessions will be recorded

Registration deadline: November 15th, 2023
Please note that registrations received after the deadline cannot be guaranteed a place on the course. If you wish to attend this course, please register at your earliest convenience.  

Course Embracing uncertainty preserving gradual patterns when modelling species distribution diversity and change


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Course overview

Live beings have been continually changing distributions, and they occur with varying frequency across space. Hence, categorical occurrence maps, whether observed or model-derived, are always incomplete and oversimplified representations of species’ actual distributions. Moreover, categorical occurrence derived from model predictions usually depends on largely arbitrary user-specified thresholds. Analyses that build on such categorical information, such as most indices of diversity, overlap, (dis)similarity and change, thus omit important gradations in species occurrence and can be visibly conditioned by threshold choice. Fuzzy logic is a simple tool to eliminate the need for these thresholds and formally incorporate the locational uncertainty and gradual variations that characterize natural biodiversity patterns. This course will show how fuzzy logic can be easily integrated into biogeographical analyses to improve the prediction and combination of species distribution patterns, with applications in (macro)ecological interaction, global change, biodiversity and biotic regionalization studies.

We will use presence-(pseudo)absence models that produce presence probability values (e.g. generalized linear and generalized additive models; tree-based classification and regression methods), which can be mathematically converted to favourability or fuzzy membership values. We will see how these values allow direct comparison and combination of gradual distribution patterns across species, regions and time periods. Finally, we will see how diversity and (dis)similarity indices, which normally require binary presence/absence information, can be generalized to work with fuzzy (degree of) occurrence values. This allows the use of presence probability models without depending on thresholds to convert them into binary predictions, thus avoiding the compounded effects of threshold choice on the results and conclusions.

The course will include both theoretical lessons explaining the concepts behind the described procedures, and practical hands-on sessions where participants will put these procedures into practice using R. In this short version of the course, we will not cover data preparation and model building. We will provide some already-made species distribution models as examples for participants to work with. Participants are also encouraged to bring their own presence-(pseudo)absence models, with their observed and predicted values, for different (ecologically related) species or time periods.

Basic experience with R and with species distribution (or ecological niche) models is required.

Participants are also required to have a computer with access to a good internet connection, a recent version of R and RStudio installed, and a set of R packages whose installation script will be provided before the course.


A. Marcia Barbosa instructor for Transmitting Science

Dr. A. Márcia Barbosa

Alba Estrada instructor for Transmitting Science

Dr. Alba Estrada
Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos, IREC (CSIC-UCLM-JCCM)

Dates & Schedule

Online live sessions on Wednesday 13th and Friday 15th of December

From 15:00 to 19:00 (Madrid time zone)

Total course hours: 8



This course will be delivered live online

The course will be taught using a combination of live (synchronous) sessions on Zoom and Slack.

Live sessions will be recorded. Recordings will be made available to participants for a limited period of time. However, attendance to the live sessions is required.


Places are limited to 18 participants and will be occupied by strict registration order.

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

Haris Saslis coordinator for Transmitting Science

Dr. Haris Saslis
Transmitting Science

Fees & Discounts

  • Course Fee
  • Early bird (until October 31st, 2023):
  • 256 €
    (204.80 € for Ambassador Institutions)
  • Regular (after October 31st, 2023):
  • 336 €
    (268.80 € for Ambassador Institutions)
  • Prices include VAT.
    After registration you will receive confirmation of your acceptance on the course.
    Payment is not required during registration.

We offer discounts on the Course Fee.

Discounts are not cumulative. Participants receive the highest appropriate discount.

We also offer the possibility of paying in two instalments. Please contact us to request this.

Former participants of Transmitting Science courses receive a 5% discount on the Course Fee.

20% discount on the Course Fee is offered to members of certain organisations (Ambassador Institutions). If you wish to apply for this discount, please indicate it in the Registration form (proof will be asked later). If you would like your institution to become a Transmitting Science Ambassador Institution, please contact us at communication@transmittingscience.com

Unemployed scientists, as well as PhD students without any grant or scholarship to develop their PhD, can benefit from a 40% discount on the Course Fee. This applies only to participants based in Spain. If you wish to ask for this discount, please contact us. The discount may apply for a maximum of 2 places, which will be covered by strict registration order.