We are organizing a summer school in data-driven ecological synthesis, with support from the Canadian Institute of Ecology & Evolution.

You can apply on-line, or read the description below. Enrollment is limited to 20 students. The class will run from May 1 to May 7, near Montréal.

You can download and print the flyer.


The main goal of this summer school is to give early-career ecologists the tools they need to interact with open data, and use them to ask general questions. In particular, we will discuss how diverse data can be integrated to further ecological synthesis and analysis.

Over the course of seven days, including students-led projects to be continued after the class, we will cover:

  • good practices for data management
  • useful statistical and mathematical tools
  • data cleaning and data analysis tools
  • notions of parallel computing for fast data processing
  • data visualisation and presentation
  • ensuring reproducibility of analyses

General informations


The summer school will be led by Timothée Poisot (Université de Montréal), with assistance from Dominique Gravel (Université de Sherbrooke) and guest appearances by other local ecologists. Depending on the attendance, one or two helper instructors will be here.

Timothée is an assistant professor in Quantitative and Computational Ecology. He is a certified Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry instructor, and serves on the editorial board of Methods in Ecology & Evolution and PLOS Computational Biology. His research focuses on the spatio-temporal dynamics of species interactions, and the applications of graph theory to a variety of ecological questions.

Dominique is a professor of biogeography at the Université de Sherbrooke, and holds a Tier I Canada Research Chair. His research focuses on theoretical ecosystem ecology, and notably the interactions between community structure, ecosystem functioning, and species distributions.


The summer school will take place at the Station de Biologie des Laurentides (SBL), operated by the Université de Montréal. Situated in the middle of a series of lakes, in the Laurentians, it is a very pleasant and stimulating place to work and relax. The SBL is also a perfect example of an emblematic Canadian biome, sitting at the transition zone between the urbanized Greater Montréal area and the Canadian shield.


The summer school will take place during the first week of May, 2017 (from May 1, to May 7).


We will take care of the transportation from the Université de Montréal to the field station on the morning on May 1, and from the field station to the Université de Montréal on the afternoon of May 7. Further details will be given to the selected applicants.


We expect that the attendees are able to turn the computer on, or willing to learn how to do so. We will take care of the rest from here. A passing knowledge of statistics, and a programming languages, is good but not required.


All days will follow the same template – we will have a more formal introduction in the morning, with time for exercises; applications in the afternoon; finally, short research seminars, round table discussions, and bonfires in the evening.

Day 1 - introduction

  • transportation to the station
  • what is ecological synthesis, what is data management
  • discussion of participants expectations
  • illustration of some research projects

Day 2 – data formats and data cleaning

  • OpenRefine for data cleaning
  • JSON, CSON, tsv, csv, xlsx, and all that
  • merging, reshaping, and combining data

Day 3 – API and open data

  • introduction to web-based API
  • automated data download

Day 4 – introduction to databases

  • sqlite
  • import/export from tables to databases

Day 5 – analysing large amounts of data

  • parallel processing
  • optimization
  • managing memory issues

Days 6, 7 – students projects

  • student-led research projects


The registration fees are 227.50 CAD for UdeM or CRÉPUQ students, and 692 CAD for other students. We have some funding for travel grants, please answer the relevant questions in the application form.

Selected applicants will be notified by the first week of March 2017.