• Advanced Courses in Life Sciences

    Header of Evolution at Transmitting Science

Live Online Course – 1st Edition

Introduction to the Analysis of Morphological Disparity

November 20th-29th, 2023

Live sessions will be recorded

Course Introduction to the analysis of morphological disparity


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Analyses of morphological disparity provide unique perspectives of evolutionary history, quantifying the anatomical variety of clades and its fluctuation through time. This course will provide an in-depth overview of the different types of data and methods that underpin these analyses and give participants the necessary skills and understanding to apply them to their own research questions.

Across five days, we will cover the advantages and disadvantages of different types of morphological data in analyses of disparity, the range of distance metrics than can be used to quantify intertaxon dissimilarity, and the ordination methods that can be used to reduce dimensionality and facilitate interpretation. How the resulting patterns in disparity can be visualised, quantified, and interpreted with nuance will also be covered at length.

This course will be predominantly practical but will include some theoretical lectures to provide a thorough grounding in the fundamentals of distance metric calculation and ordination. How different types of morphological data are derived will also be discussed but will not be included in the practical component of the course. All analyses will be conducted in R, a free software environment for statistical computing and graphics (https://www.r-project.org/). These analyses will use functions from a variety of packages including ape, geiger, phytools, phangorn, Claddis, dispRity, vegan, and geomorph.

We will provide a selection of model datasets for participants to use during the practical components of the course. However, we encourage attendees to bring their own datasets so that they can gain experience tailoring the techniques this course will introduce to their own analytical needs right away.

Graduate or postgraduate degree in Life or Earth Sciences. Basic knowledge of  R at user level is required to follow the course.

Participants must have a personal computer (Windows, Mac, Linux), with access to a good internet connection. The use of a webcam and headphones is strongly recommended.

Thomas Smith instructor for Transmitting Science

Dr. Thomas Smith
University of Oxford

Dates & Schedule

November 20th-29th, 2023

13:00-18:00 (Madrid time zone)

Online live sessions on 20th, 22nd, 24th, 27th, and 29th of November, from 13:00 to 18:00 (Madrid time zone).

Total course hours: 30

25 hours of online live lessons, plus 5 hours of participants working on their own.

This course is equivalent to 1 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.



This course will be delivered live online

This course will be taught using a combination of live (synchronous) sessions on Zoom, prerecorded lessons, and tasks to be completed in between live sessions on the Slack platform.

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 16 participants and will be occupied by strict registration order.

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

Haris Saslis instructor for Transmitting Science

Dr. Haris Saslis
Transmitting Science

Humberto Ferron Coordinator Transmitting Science

Humberto Ferrón
Universitat de València

Fees & Discounts

  • Course Fee
  • Early bird (until August 31st, 2023):
  • 498 €
    (398.4 € for Ambassador Institutions)
  • Regular (after August 31st, 2023):
  • 566 €
    (452.8 € 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.