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What You'll Study
  • Projections, coordinate systems, scale and other core GIS concepts
  • Import, manipulation and visualization of raster and vector spatial data in R
  • Location, download and use of available digital online data sources
  • Analysis of animal movement path data and generation of home ranges
  • Wildlife habitat suitability analyses and species distribution modeling
  • Habitat connectivity analyses
  • Creation of publication quality maps using package tmap
Program Details

March 15 – May 4, 2021

Available Formats

Graduate (CONS 697, 3 credits)

Professional Training (SMSC 0516, 3.75 CEUs)


GraduateSee Mason’s graduate tuition rates

Professional Training: $500.00


Apply by February 15, 2021

Payment due by March 1, 2021

Meet the Faculty

Qiongyu Huang
Wildlife Biologist and Lab Manager, Conservation GIS Laboratory
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Dr. Huang's current projects include quantifying the variability of the predicted giant panda future habitat, examining spatial temporal variability of resource availability in global grassland systems, and mapping forest and deforestation in Myanmar.
Jared Stabach
Research Scientist
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Dr. Stabach’s research focuses on the effects of natural and anthropogenic disturbance on the movements and habitat use of terrestrial mammals.
Grant Connette
Research Ecologist
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Dr. Connette specializes in landscape ecology, population dynamics and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and currently focuses on providing tools and information to support large-scale conservation planning.
Ramiro D. Crego
Post-doctoral Researcher
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Dr. Crego’s uses a combination of field data collection, remote sensing, and advanced modeling to investigate the response of species to rapid global changes including climate change, invasive species and human activities.

Curriculum and Format

The synchronous online course aims to provide graduate students and professionals with an introduction to the increasingly powerful and flexible range of tools for working with spatial data in the R environment. The course will review core GIS concepts and the basics of R programming and build skills in digital data acquisition and raster and vector import and manipulation. With these key skills, the course will move into applications in spatial ecology including: animal home range generation and movement analysis, habitat suitability analysis and species distribution models, and habitat connectivity analysis. All steps of the course will build skills in data visualization, with an additional module on map generation with the tmap package.

Live virtual lectures and analysis demonstrations in R (using Zoom) will be paired with additional prepared/recorded material and significant independent analysis work. Primary live sessions will be: Tuesday and Thursday 8:30 – 10:20 am EST. These sessions will also be recorded and posted for later viewing. Each week will also include a live Q&A session (time to be determined). Participants should plan to spend 5-8 hours of work time on this class each week (3-4 hours of live lectures and demo + 2-4 hours of independent assignment work). This course is designed and taught by experts at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s (SCBI) Conservation GIS Lab and students will virtually meet a wide range of scientists from the Lab working on species conservation projects around the world.

What’s Included

The total cost for professional training covers access to weekly:

  • Live lectures (and their recordings) delivered by scientists in the SCBI Conservation GIS Lab
  • Live code-based analysis demonstrations (and their recordings)
  • Analysis datasets and assignment solution codes
  • Live Q & A sessions with instructors

Acceptance does not guarantee you a seat in the course. Seats are allocated as registration payments are received, and early registration is strongly encouraged to ensure you get a spot.

Email for additional information.

“Not only was this an educational intro course that covered a variety of synergistic topics, the diverse group of instructors and peers provided an interesting dynamic with unique contributions and I’m grateful for this brilliant new network!”

Sarah Wallerstedt (in-person participant) Junior Scientist, Heliospace, Durango, Colorado, USA

“Great course to get a general understanding of the latest open-source spatial platforms. I also feel like I now have a basic understanding of spatial ecology concepts that I didn’t get a chance to learn in graduate school.”

Course participant (in-person format) 2019 Essentials of Spatial Ecology course offering
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