International Summer School

Spatially-Explicit Modeling of Ecological Systems

from 8th – 12th May 2017

Short Summary

The summer school will introduce mathematical and process-based modeling of complex ecological systems to undergraduate and graduate students. The main focus will be the integration of spatial aspects into the models, promoting skills in mechanistic simulation modeling and the explicit investigation of causal effects in the next generation of ecologists. During the week, the participants will get acquainted with computational programming (R language) and will be introduced to spatial, process-based simulation models with gradual complexity, from individuals, over populations to evolving communities. Mornings will entail lectures, whereas the afternoons will include practical exercises. The participants will have the chance to develop their first models as well as work on already available models. Lectures and practical work will be given both by speakers from the University Würzburg and external invited leading experts in ecology and ecological modeling. The last day will include a symposium with talks of the invited lecturers and local researchers to showcase their current research to the summer school participants, which will have the opportunity to contribute as well. A final discussion round will discuss potential research plans arising over the week and symposium. The summer school is funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). ECTS Credits: 5.

Confirmed external speakers:

Henrik J. Jensen (Imperial College London)
Robert J. Whittaker (Oxford University)
Thomas Müller (University of Frankfurt)
Katja Schiffers (University of Frankfurt)
Speakers from the University Würzburg:

Thomas Hovestadt
Alexander Kubisch
Juliano S. Cabral
Franziska Matthäus


The summer school will take place at the Center for Computational and Theoretical Biology (CCTB) of the University of Würzburg. The CCTB benefits from a vibrant international and multidisciplinary teaching and research atmosphere. Regularly organized summer schools for international students profit from the world-leading tradition and infrastructure of the University. The old and traditional city of Würzburg is located at the Romantic route of Bavaria, offering an attractive learning scenario.

Registration Information

Selection: bachelor and master students with ecological and/or computational background will have priority, but we encourage application from anybody interested.

Attendance fees: 150 €, to be paid within a month after selection (details will come with the selection notification). Included: local transport and lunch for the entire week of the summer school, joint dinner (to be held on Thursday, the 11th), and catering during breaks.

Deadline for applying for the summer school: 27th January 2017

Financial support: students from abroad will receive reimbursement of travel costs up to 950€. Material, accommodation and travel tickets can be supported by the grant.

Call for applications closed

Selected candidates will be notified early February


Prof. Juliano Sarmento Cabral (Ecosystem Modeling, CCTB)
Prof. Franziska Matthäus (FIAS / University of Frankfurt)


Useful bibliography about mechanistic simulation models:

Cabral, J.S., Valente, L., Hartig, F. (2016) Mechanistic models in macroecology and biogeography: state-of-art and prospects. Ecography, DOI: 10.1111/ecog.02480. LINK

Zurell, D., Thuiller, W., Pagel, J., Cabral, J.S., Muenkenmueller, T., Gravel, D., Dullinger, S., Normand, S., Schiffers, K., Moore, K.A., Zimmerman, N. (2016) Benchmarking novel approaches for modelling species range dynamics. Global Change Biology 22: 2651-2664. LINK

Cabral, J.S., Kreft, H. (2012) Linking ecological niche, community ecology and biogeography: insights from a mechanistic niche model. Journal of Biogeography 39: 2212-2224. LINK

Dormann, C.F., Schymanski, S.J., Cabral, J., Chuine, I., Graham, C., Hartig, F., Kearney, M., Morin, X., Römermann, C., Schröder, B., Singer, A. (2012) Correlation and process in species distribution models: bridging a dichotomy. Journal of Biogeography 39: 2119-2131. LINK