• Advanced Courses in Life Sciences

    Header of Ecology at Transmitting Science

Short Live Online Course – 3rd Edition

Evaluating and validating species distribution models with R

November 30th-December 1st, 2023

Live sessions will be recorded

Course Evaluating and validating species distribution models with R


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Course 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.

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

Participants are 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 for which the installation script will be provided before the course.

Basic experience with R is required.


A. Marcia Barbosa instructor for Transmitting Science

Dr. A. Márcia Barbosa

Dates & Schedule

November 30th-December 1st, 2023

15:00-19:00 (Madrid time zone)

Online live sessions on Thursday and Friday, 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.

Soledad De Esteban-Trivigno Transmitting Science coordinator

Dr. Soledad De Esteban-Trivigno
Transmitting Science

Haris Saslis coordinator for Transmitting Science

Dr. Haris Saslis
Transmitting Science

Fees & Discounts

  • Course Fee
  • Early bird (until September 30th, 2023):
  • 215 €
    (172 € for Ambassador Institutions)
  • Regular (after September 30th, 2023):
  • 290 €
    (232 € 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.