Participants of the 2015 OPTIMASS Summer School at Waterberg educational centre

Title: Experimental Design and Introduction to R statistical software (in the context of hydro-ecological savanna research)


The Summer School covers various types of quantitative research methods, basic principles of experimental design, techniques for data collection in the field as well as statistical analysis using the open-source statistical software R. This free statistics software provides a huge base of tools for e.g. data organization, graphics and model fitting. Participants will use real ecological data mutually collected during the course. They will be encouraged to develop own research plans, outline specific hypotheses, determine the most suitable experimental approach and to identify the appropriate statistical test and its application in R. A special focus is set on the presentation of results. The language of instruction is English.

Three ecohydrological research topics with respective case studies will guide our Summer School:

• Chemical Characterization of Groundwater at the Waterberg and surrounding

• Shrub Encroachment: Dispersal ecology of shrub encroachers

• Biodiversity: Feeding preferences or predation risk of small mammals

Statistical topics include linear regression, correlation, mixed effects modelling, generalized linear modelling (GLM). We discuss key issues such as interactions, model selection, model validation and model interpretation (actual vs fitted values). Students will be familiarized to deal with different data types such as continuous data, count data and proportional data. They will become confident to distinguish between response and explanatory variables.

Duration and location:

Our first OPTIMASS Summer School took place between 30 November and 4/5 December 2015 at the Waterberg Educational Centre. 

Dr. Katja Geissler & Dr. Dirk Lohmann (University of Potsdam), Dr. Heike Wanke (UNAM), Dr. Morgan Hauptfleisch (Polytechnic), supported by Sebastian Fiedler (FU Berlin)

Target group:
OPTIMASS Master/Honors level and PhD students, but also open for SASSCAL students, external students can be registered if places are available
Number of participants:
16 students and 4 lecturers
Course material:

Participants should ideally bring their own laptop.

Participants of the 2015 OPTIMASS Summer School at Waterberg educational centre