• Advanced Courses in Life Sciences

    Header of Ecology at Transmitting Science

Short Course – 2nd Edition

Evaluating and validating species distribution models with R

May 18th-19th, 2022


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This course will be delivered live online

It 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.

Course Evaluating and validating species distribution models with RCourse overview

Species distribution models are commonly evaluated with metrics such as the area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve (AUC), the true skill statistic (TSS), Cohen’s kappa, sensitivity, specificity, or the overall classification accuracy or correct classification rate.

These metrics assess discrimination and/or classification capacity, i.e., the ability of the model to distinguish and classify localities with and without presence records. However, this is only one limited aspect of model performance. Other aspects, such as calibration or reliability (i.e., how predicted presence probabilities relate to observed occurrence frequencies), are also very important, albeit often overlooked, aspects of model performance. In addition, common discrimination metrics are often deceivingly high for rare species and naturally lower for generalist species, which do not clearly discriminate “good” from “bad” habitat.

Model quality should thus be assessed with a comprehensive set of evaluation measures, appropriate for species with different ecological and biogeographical traits.

In this short course, we will use R to compute a wide range of model evaluation metrics, encompassing discrimination, classification, explanatory power and calibration. We will also see different ways to validate models outside their training area, including spatial block cross-validation.

The course will be highly interactive and will include both theoretical and practical sessions. Participants are encouraged to bring their own models with observed and predicted values, though they can also work with example models that will be provided


Participants should have previous basic experience with R, a computer (Linux, Windows or MacOS) preferably with a webcam, and a good internet connection. A recent version of R will be needed, and RStudio is also recommended.

This course will not cover data preparation and model building, participants are expected to be familiarized with how to build species distribution models.




May 18th-19th, 2022

Schedule and Course length

Online live sessions Wednesday and Thursday, from 15:00 to 19:00 (Madrid time zone).

8 hours

Live sessions will be recorded. 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.

A. Marcia Barbosa instructor for Transmitting Science

Dr. A. Márcia Barbosa

Haris Saslis coordinator for Transmitting Science

Dr. Haris Saslis
Transmitting Science


  • Course Fee
  • Early bird (until April 30th, 2022):
  • 156 €
    (124.8 € for Ambassador Institutions)
  • Regular (after April 30th, 2022):
  • 196 €
    (156.8 € for Ambassador Institutions)
  • The price is VAT included.
    After registration you will receive confirmation of your acceptance in the course. Payment is not required during registration.

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


Discounts are not cumulative and apply only on the Course Fee. We offer the possibility of paying in two instalments (contact courses@transmittingscience.com).

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

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

Unemployed scientists living in the country were the course will be held, as well as PhD students based in that country 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.