Detailed information about the course

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Global change effects on Alpine ecosystems: 'upscaling from fine-grained information about species' fundamental ecological requirements to meaningful distribution range predictions


10-12 November 2016


Prof. Raphaël Arlettaz, University of Bern (CH)

Prof. Antoine Guisan, University of Lausanne (CH)

Dr Veronika Braunisch, University of Bern (CH)


Dr Mattia Brambilla, Lombardy Foundation for the Environment, Milano (IT)

Dr Dan Chamberlain, Università di Torino (IT)

Dr Manuela d'Amen, University of Lausanne (CH)

Prof Miska Luoto, University of Helsinki (FI)

Dr Jean-Nicolas Pradervand, Swiss Ornithological Institute, Sempach (CH)

Dr Daniel Scherrer, University of Lausanne (CH)

Davide Scridel, University of Pavia (IT)

Prof Nick Zimmerman, WSL, Birmensdorf (CH)


Global change is already affecting biodiversity, but its impact is expected to increase dramatically in the future, with unclear effects on ecosystems, especially in mountain environments that are characterized by rugged topography and wide environmental gradients over short distances. Farming activities have either increased in intensity in accessible terrain or decreased in difficult topography where they have become economically unviable. In the same time, recreational activities and infrastructures have spread. And the whole is furthermore influenced by ongoing climate change. Different forces are at play, the effects of which upon biodiversity remain difficult to disentangle.

Models predicting the effects of global change on species distributions are mostly based on coarse-grained mapped environmental data, available across wide areas. These data, however, are not necessarily linked causally to species’ ecological requirements and thus are difficult to downscale to the local conditions, i.e. to the scale at which management action usually takes place. This represents an impediment to adaptive conservation management. In addition, locally measured variables are often lacking when it comes to accurately predict species distribution for pragmatic management at the local scale. Useful predictions for managers should therefore integrate both climate and landuse changes at scales relevant for management, and make better use of all existing information about ecological requirements of species and interactions within communities.

In this workshop we will focus on the opportunities to upscale models from locally gathered, fine-grained ecological information about species requirements towards comprehensive spatial predictions about range shifts, with the objective to better orient biodiversity conservation management. Its counterpart, downscaling from broad scale to local will also be addressed.


Provisionnal Schedule

Thursday 10th November

Until 17h30

Arrivals and registration at hotel Victoria


17h30 – 18h15

Welcome address – Introduction to the workshop topic and organisation – Expectations towards the workshop


18h15 – 18h30

Short pee break

Those in need

18h30 – 19h00

Presentation of the students (research interest, expectations from the workshop, etc.).


19h00 – …………

Dinner & free evening


Friday 11th November

07h00 – 08h30


08h30 – 09h00

1. The importance of side-scaling: model consistency and transferability across different Alpine regions

Dan Chamberlain

09h00 – 09h30

2. Modelling the fine-scale distribution of habitats required for different uses: testing upscaling for avian species with different spatial requirements

Mattia Brambilla

09h30 – 10h00

3. Coarse or very high-resolution predictors in species distribution models? An example from the Alps and its implications for upscaling

Jean-Nicolas Pradervand

10h00 – 10h30

Discussion around topics 1-3


10h30 – 11h00

Coffee break

11h00 – 11h30

4. Snow persistence is necessary for predicting arctic-alpine species distributions

Miska Luoto

11h30 – 12h00

5. Perspectives in cross-scale community modelling for biodiversity conservation management

Manuela d’Amen

12h00 – 12h30

Discussion around topics 4 & 5


12h30 – 14h00

Lunch break

14h00 – 14h30

6. Matching response with predictor variables in species distribution models: issues of (up-)scaling

Nick Zimmermann

14h30 – 15h00

7. Integrating small scale habitat heterogeneity & atmospheric decoupling into coarser scale species range predictions

Daniel Scherrer

15h00 – 15h30

Discussion around topics 6 & 7


15h30 – 16h00

Coffee break

16h00 – 16h30

General presentation of exercise topics: upscaling from locally collected information


16h30 – 17h00

Topic presentations by field specialists about locally collected data about foraging habitat selection by ring ouzel and snow finch, two endangered Alpine passerines

Arnaud Barras, Matthia Brambilla, Jaime Resano Mayor and Davide Scridel

17h00 – 18h45

Working groups depending on number of students: developing a study design and analytical framework to address the examplary case study problem

VB, AG and RA as moderators Speakers 1-7 as discussion group leaders

19h00 – …………


Saturday 12th November

07h00 – 08h30


08h00 – 10h00

Continuation of groups’ work, preparation of a short slide presentation (10-20’ each)


10h00 – 10h30

Coffee break


10h30 – 12h00

Presentation of study designs and analytical frameworks by the different working groups, each time followed by a 15’ discussion


12h00 – 12h30

Final discussion and feedback from the audience


12h30 – …………

Lunch and departure









Full attendance and active participation



10-12 November 2016



Eurotel Victoria, Villars-sur-Ollon


Free for PhD students of the DPEE

Participants from CUSO universities (Lausanne, Bern, Neuchâtel, Geneva and Fribourg: 350CHF

All other participants: 400CHF




PhD students of the DPEE are eligible for reimbursement of incurred travel expenses by train (half-fare card, and 2nd class). Please send the original tickets (no copies, except for the general abonnement) with the reimbursement form to:

Caroline Betto-Colliard

Doctoral Program in Ecology and Evolution  

DEE- Biophore Building  

University of Lausanne  

CH-1015 Lausanne


CUSO PhD students: through your MyCUSO account.


External participants (non-CUSO PhD students, post-docs, etc...): use the icon "registration" at top of page and the last gray box "non-CUSO student" ("personne hors myCUSO").



Deadline for registration 08.11.2016
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