Marine Ecological Modelling and Global Change (3 ECTS)

Semester: 2nd

Code: 18361000

Coordinator: Jorge Assis (

Scope: The course covers the interactions and potential impacts of global climate changes (past, ongoing and future) on different levels of marine biodiversity. It is mostly hands­-on oriented, with a strong component on biodiversity and climate data acquisition, management and visualisation (e.g., the new Representative Concentration Pathway scenarios of climate change), as well as on ecological modelling using state of the art mechanistic and correlative approaches (e.g., machine learning algorithms).

Target audience: The course is targeted to the fields of marine biology, ecology, conservation and evolution. Students must be fluent in English and have some basic knowledge on marine ecology, statistics and R computing language (although not mandatory). Students are highly encouraged to bring their own datasets (if data are not available, the professor will provide his own data).


  • Get to know the foundations of ecological niche theory and marine macroecology;
  • Develop skills on marine biodiversity and climate data acquisition, management and visualisation;
  • Develop skills on mechanistic and correlative ecological niche modelling (ENM);
  • Understand the strengths of ENM and the concept of transferability across space and time;
  • Develop skills on good practice ENM following proper parametization and evaluation of predictive performances;
  • Develop skills on integrating physiological information into hybrid ENM to improve models' transferability;
  • Develop skills on niche evolution analyses to infer potential climate drivers of evolution and diversification;
  • Get to know how to discuss the results of ENM and the potential impacts of climate change on the distribution of marine biodiversity, and defend them to a wide audience.


6 h of lectures + 24h of computer lab classes + 50 h of independent work.

Independent study will be based on hands-on tutorials of R programming language. This will be of Problem learning, following practical classes, and aims to the development of an individual written work addressing a relevant research question.


Registration on electives (except field and Lab methods) are dealt with directly with the Serviços Académicos. The MBM coordination will not interfere in that process. Be attentive that if you enrol in a subject and later on you want to change you are subject to a small penalty, so think well beforehand on what are your best options.



1. One final exam (multiple choice; e.g., moodle environment).

2. One individual written work about the interactions OR impact of global climate changes (past OR future) in one of the different levels of biodiversity and ecological group. This can be the projection of future range shifts, predicting marine invasion processes or identifying the main climatic drivers of evolution and diversification. Students can bring their own bioclimatic / biodiversity datasets.


  1. Key concepts of marine macroecology
  2. Niche theory
  3. Sources of biodiversity and bioclimatic data
  4. Key concepts of ecological modelling (including algorithms and main correlative and mechanistic approaches)
  5. Frameworks of cross-validation for proper parameterization and evaluation of models
  6. Frameworks of models’ transferability in space and time
  7. Particular case studies at global scales using contrasting ecological groups (e.g., marine forests of large brown algae, seagrasses, fish and invertebrates) and levels of biodiversity.