Experimental Design and Data Analyses (with R)

Course dates: 09 - 13 March, 2020 (arrival on Sunday the 8th of March)

The application system for this course has now been closed. Applicants will be informed about their acceptance status in due time.

Coordinating university/institution:
University of Potsdam, Germany


Location: TBA (close to the ORYCS study region about 500 km from Windhoek - arrival and departure will be organised from a central meeting point at Windhoek)

Transfer to course site, basic accommodation, and catering as indicated in the program are funded for selected participants.

Course coordinator: Dr. Dirk Lohmann

Course lead: Dr. Katja Geißler, Dr. Niels Blaum and Dr. Morgan Hauptfleisch

Target group:
Southern African MSc and PhD students, Early career researchers from SPACES II related fields of research

Teaching concept and aims:
The short course is an introduction to various types of quantitative research methods in savanna ecology. Three research topics with respective case studies will guide our short course:

  • Chemical Characterization of Groundwater
  • Shrub Encroachment: Dispersal ecology of encroacher shrubs
  • Biodiversity: Feeding preferences or predation risk of small mammals

Besides the introduction to basic principles of experimental design and techniques for data collection in the field, the course covers statistical analysis and graphical presentation of results using the open-source statistical software R.

Participants will use real ecological and ecohydrological data mutually collected during the course. They will be encouraged to develop own research plans, outline specific hypotheses, determine the most suitable experimental or sampling approach and to identify the appropriate statistical test and its application in R using these data. Particular attention will be given to the visualization of scientific results.

During the second part of the course, a special focus is set on the analysis of the individual data sets which the participants have brought along (see application requirements). This can either be data sets of smaller study projects or data from thesis projects of participants.

Expected learning outcomes:

  • Knowing the most important keystones of ecological research design, analyses and visualization, specifically addressing savanna ecology
  • Reporting findings through statistics in R
  • Gaining experience in the application of field methods in savanna ecology


Please apply electronically by clicking on the link at the top of this course description (the live link will be opened in December 2020 and closed at the end of the registration period).
Documents to be provided by the applicant:

  • CV
  • Research plan: A concise (max. 2 pages) description of an own ongoing research project (e.g. part of the thesis), including the specific research questions and hypothesis of research question(s) /hypothesis and methods of data sampling applied (e.g. no. of sampling plots, repetitions, sketch of sampling design). All participants should bring along at least one own dataset that could be analysed during the course.
  • Copy of the passport

Only completely submitted applications will be considered.

Additional information:

The language of instruction is English, no prior experience in R is necessary.