Molecular approaches, methods and techniques in animal ecology

July 28-30th 2017, Miramar Palace, Donostia

This is a 3-day intensive cutting-edge introduction to molecular methods and techniques applied to animal ecology. The course aims to provide students with the necessary theoretical and technical ground to choose appropriate approaches and to develop correct experimental designs when conceiving molecular studies of wildlife ecology.
Preliminary program
  • July 28th
  • July 29th
  • July 30th

Module 1 - Introduction to molecular ecology and experimental design

8:30 - 12:30

  • Introduction and overview of the course 
  • Historical overview of molecular techniques applied to ecological research
  • General concepts and techniques
  • High-throughput sequencing/Next generation sequencing platforms
  • Targeted sequencing, reduced representation genome sequencing and whole genome sequencing
  • Key aspects for a good experimental design

Module 2 - General techniques in molecular ecology 

14:30 - 18:30

  • Sample collection and storage
  • DNA extraction
  • PCR amplification
  • Library build
  • Sequencing
  • Bioinformatic pre-processing

Module 3 - Population genomics

8:30 - 12:30

  • Moving from population genetics to population genomics
  • Data management and summary statistics (PLINK)
  • Population structure and genetic differentiation
  • Identifying loci under selection - Fst outlier tests (population genomics approaches)
  • Identifying local adaptations - Gene-Environment Associations (landscape genomics approaches)
  • Practical population and landscape genomics (R)

Module 2 - DNA metabarcoding 

14:30 - 18:30

  • Introduction to environmental DNA and metabarcoding
  • Things to consider when planning a metabarcoding diet study - in the lab, in the analyses and in the interpretation of results
  • In the lab: Quality check of DNA extracts and PCR reactions, tagging PCR products and preparing amplicon pools for sequencing
  • In the analyses: How to balance error removal with detection of low abundance prey 
  • Interpretation of results in a metabarcoding diet study 

Module 5 - Metagenomics

8:30 - 12:30

  • Introduction to shotgun metagenomics applied to gut microbiota
  • In the lab: shotgun library build and sequencing
  • In the screen: dataset cleaning (clonality, low-complexity reads...), read assembly and mapping strategies.
  • Taxonomic analyses: taxonomy assignment and taxonomy diversity statistics
  • Functional approach: gene prediction, functional annotation and functional diversity statistics

Module 6 - One-by-one sessions 

14:30 - 18:30

  • 15 minute sessions
  • Experimental design of own projects
  • Project specific technical questions


Orly is a NERC Independent Research Fellow and Lecturer in Ecology, researching biodiversity responses to global environmental change. She combines genomic tools with ecological modelling to study environmental adaptations in bats and their population-level consequences.
Antton Alberdi
Antton Alberdi University of Copenhagen
Antton is a postdoctoral researcher at the Natural History Museum of Denmark, where he researches on bat, cervid and bird gut metagenomes from modern and ancient samples using full shotgun techniques.
Kristine Bohmann
Kristine Bohmann University of East Anglia
Kristine is Assistant Professor at the National Museum of Denmark and University of East Anglia, where she works with environmental DNA and its use in diet and biodiversity studies with particular focus on DNA metabarcoding and methodological improvements.
Aitor is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of the Basque Country. His research is focused on the foraging ecology of bats using DNA metabarcoding: from individual-level trophic specialization to interspecific trophic interactions and pest control services.
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The registration to the Molecular Ecology Course is managed by the Summer Courses Foundation of the University of the Basque Country (UIK), and it is independent from the conference registration. Before entering the registration platform read carefully the following guidelines:

  1. UIK platform: by clicking the REGISTER NOW button below UIK's registration platform will open in a new tab of your Internet browser. Once there, you will have to carry out a two-step process. If it is the first time you are registering to a UIK's activity (most probable option), you will have to create your user account filling the form on the right. If you have already created your user account, you will be able to access to the Course Registration Form by filling the form on the left.
  2. Registration type: if you have registered to the EBRS 2017 conference you can take advantage of the reduced registration fee (180€ instead of 250€). If you are a student with no financial support, you can request an exceptional registration fee (200€) by uploading a signed document stating that no institution or research group will pay your registration. 
  3. Lunch: lunches at the Ezeiza Hotel are included in the registration fee. However, you will have to indicate if you want to have lunch with the course group and whether you have any special food requirements.
  4. Accommodation: when finishing your registration, the University of the Basque Country's Summer Courses site will send you an email containing the promotion code to book rooms with a special discount directly in the Olarain and Manuel Agud Querol Residence Hall booking systems. Use the address provided in that email message if you are interested in the Ondarreta Youth Hostel, indicating you are attending EBRS 2017. Reduced prices are offered from July 27th to August 6th.
  5. Invoice: once filled the first part of the form, you will be offered the option to add billing information as well as to print a proforma invoice.
  6. Payment: there are two payment options: credit card or bank transfer. Credit card payment is processed through BBVA's secure payment gateway. Visa, Visa Electron, MasterCard and Maestro cards are accepted. It is also possible to pay using the IUPAY digital wallet. If you choose the bank transfer option, you will be shown the IBAN number for the transaction, and you will have to upload a proof document to the system.
  7. Further steps: once registered, you will be able to book rooms and beds at a reduced cost at the Olarain University Residence Hall and at the Manuel Agud Querol Residence Hall. To book at the Ondarreta Youth Hostel you have to send your request through the email address provided once you have registered. We will contact you in June with further details of the course.