Course information

Aims

The course will provide an introduction to geometric morphometrics - the quantitative analysis of organismal size and shape. There will be a survey of the methods for data acquisition and analysis as well as applications in diverse subfields of biology and medicine. Examples will primarily be from the research in Chris Klingenberg's lab, but the course content should be broadly applicable in studies on diverse organisms (animals, humans, plants) and in the context of different research fields (basic biology as well as medical or other applications).

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students should be enabled to read and understand the current literature in the field and to conduct simple morphometric studies themselves, from the design of the study through data collection to the analysis and interpretation of results.

Course Content

The unit will be taught primarily via the web, with various opportunities for exchange and discussion.

Practice exercises

As far as possible, practical exercises are provided to accompany the lecture content. These practice exercises consist of data sets and explanations on how to run the respective analyses using the MorphoJ software. The same few examples are used for different analyses throughout the course, so that participants will see different aspects in familiar data sets. Participants who already have collected their own data are encouraged to use those for practice too, and there are opportunities for sharing results and experiences with other participants. Participants are also welcome to use other programs if they prefer, but the main support is for MorphoJ.

Group work

As a part of the course, participants will work in small groups to produce a simple set of wiki pages that presents the various stages of a research project using morphometrics. The aim of these presentations is to encourage discussions among the participants. Examples can be the participants' actual research questions, questions that can be addressed with the examples provided in the course, or imaginary studies. Because of the diverse backgrounds of the participants, the presentations usually give a broad and rich cross-section through the possibilities of morphometric research. In the last few years, interactive component has been one of the most exciting aspects of the course.

Time requirement

The course is equivalent to three hours of lecture per week (delivered as web pages), some work in small groups, and general interaction with other participants via bulletin boards etc. There are no events at fixed times, so that you can choose freely when you want to log in (unless you want to do the group work using the chat facility). However, you should plan to log in to the course regularly during the six-week period (at least once every two days, better more often).

Assessment

No formal summative assessment is included in the course (i.e. no pass/fail mark or grade will be given). Participants will receive a letter confirming their participation in the course, but they will not receive any official certification from the University.

Technical information

There are no special requirements for software. You need an Internet connection that is sufficiently fast for normal web browsing (including graphics etc.). You only software you need right away is a web browser.

All additional software needed (MorphoJ or other morphometrics programs, perhaps graphics software) is available for free, although participants may choose to use commercial software if they have access to it. Links for downloads and more detailed instructions will be provided in the course.

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