Gen3sis: Simulating the evolution of biodiversity

Recent developments in computer modelling and paleoenvironmental reconstruction make it possible to study how biodiversity emerges from the interaction of dynamic ecological, evolutionary, and environmental processes. A class of models known as mechanistic eco-evolutionary models (MEEMs) are emerging as a useful tool for researchers in biogeography and evolutionary biology to study these processes in a statistically rigorous framework.

This workshop aims to develop skills required to simulate biodiversity patterns using MEEMs, and specifically the Gen3sis engine, consequently enabling participants to design experiments and test multiple interconnected hypotheses for the evolution of biodiversity. 

The course will have two components. First, a seminar component will cover (1) an introductory background into the history and philosophy behind simulation modelling, (2) contemporary use of MEEMs in biodiversity research, and (3) invited talk by Dr. Tristan Salles on paleoenvironmental modelling and data. Second, the course will include a hands-on component with practical exercises in R aimed at teaching participants to run the software and develop models.

The intended audience are ECRs, including PhDs and postdocs, who are interested in evolutionary biology and biogeography. Participants should have some background in programming using the R language. The workshop will be limited to 12 participants.

Participants should leave the course confident to create new landscapes and eco-evolutionary rules, conduct simulation experiments and reflect about emergent patterns. Moreover, they will gain knowledge on when to apply and when not to apply such tools, as well as to become familiar with the model’s limitations and potentials.

Requirements: Participants must bring a laptop with a Mac, Linux, or Windows operating system (not a tablet, Chromebook, etc.) that they have administrative privileges on. They should have the R software and some key packages downloaded before the workshop.

About Oskar

Oskar Hagen, is a Post Doctoral Fellow at iDiv, the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research. His research focus is on spatial and temporal patterns of biodiversity, particularly using population-based spatially explicit mechanistic eco-evolutionary models (aka MEEMs) to simulate emergent life patterns. This involves using population and community ecology, macroecology, biogeography, historical ecology, evolution, macroevolution, paleontology, geology and climatology.

Oskar's visit is funded by the Centre for Biodiversity Analysis, hosted Alex Skeels (ANU). Please get in touch with Alex if you would like to meet with Oskar during his time in Canberra.