Geometric Morphometrics course

Every year I give a 5-day course in geometric morphometrics organized by the Berlin-based company Physalia Courses.

Geometric morphometrics is a modern and widely used set of tools for the analysis of shape. This set of techniques is extremely popular among researchers in areas as diverse as ecology, evolutionary biology, anthropology, and archaeology.

You can read an intuitive, brief and informal explanation of what geometric morphometrics is in this website’s page on geometric morphometrics.

Topics and target audience

Macropodoid shape change (GPSA)

Shape change in a sample of macropodoid marsupials (kangaroos and other related groups) - unpublished results from Fruciano et al 2017 - Ecology and Evolution

Generally speaking, the course gives a broad theoretical overview and practical hands-on experience on the most important topics in the field.

The course is aimed at beginners and intermediate users. That is, it is aimed at people who are just starting out as well as at people who have already started using geometric morphometric methods, but would benefit from a more structured background, a deeper understanding of the concepts or learn more techniques.

This is obtained by placing an emphasis on what’s happening “under the hood” of most common geometric morphometric analyses without sacrificing the practical parts, as well as covering a few topics which are not strictly “beginner topics”.

In this sense, the course fills a unique niche in the field, as most other courses in geometric morphometrics are either aimed at total beginners or, at the other end of the spectrum, tend to focus on topics and downstream analyses for very specific applications.

Topics and the way are covered are also adjusted to participants’ abilities and interest based on pre-course surveys and within-course feedback. For instance, the relative importance of R implementations and point-and-click option is optimized based on the number of R users in the group and their level.

A more detailed breakdown of next edition’s topics, as well as costs and practical information, on the course page on Physalia Courses’ website.

Shared manuscript

I typically offer participants to my course the possibility of being involved in one of my own studies/manuscripts.

In particular,

The idea is to offer participants the kind of extra exposure to geometric morphometric methods in a practical setting that cannot be compressed in a 5-day course. All of this without sacrificing quality of instruction for those participants who may not want to participate.

Clearly, no promises of co-authorship can be made in advance as these depends on individual involvement and level of intellectual contribution. Similarly, it is hard to evaluate in advance the final outcome of a real research study. However, this typically works quite well, with most participants to the course enthusiastically participating to the study, getting more exposure and a co-authoring a paper.