Conservation Genomics


22nd-25th July 2024


To foster international participation, this course will be held online





This course will introduce attendees to how the tools of population genomics can be used to inform conservation. The instructors will guide students through study design, genomic data collection methods, handling of raw genomic data, and SNP filtering to produce a dataset. Then, we will work through a suite of analyses looking at population structure, local adaptation, effective population size, inbreeding and relatedness. We will provide background on the theory and application of these analyses, and then run hands-on exercises running analyses and interpreting results. Through hands-on exercises, the course will teach basic bioinformatics skills and how to manipulate, visualize and interpret genomic data and patterns in a conservation related context.



Target audience and assumed background


The course is aimed at graduate students and researchers who are interested in using genomic tools to address issues in conservation. Participants should have some basic background in evolution and population genetics. Previous experience in UNIX-based command line and R is required. Hands-on exercises will be run in a Linux environment on remote servers and data analysis and visualization will be run in R using RStudio.



Teaching format


The course will be delivered fully online over 4 half-day (5 hour) sessions, with a combination of lectures and practical exercises that will be live (synchronous). Discussions among participants and with the instructors on concepts and data analyses will be possible through video conferencing and a dedicated Slack workspace.



Learning outcomes


1.    Study design and genomic data collection methods
2.    Handling genomic data from raw reads to a filtered dataset of SNP genotypes
3.    Assessing population structure using multiple methods
4.    Searching for signals of adaptation
5.    Estimating effective population size
6.    Calculating inbreeding
7.    Estimating relatedness




Monday – Classes from 2-8 pm Berlin time

Part 1 – Introduction to genomic data (E. Jensen)
In this first session we will have an opportunity to get to know each other and the variety of research interests in the group. We will also explore different aspects of a population genetic study, including best practices around sampling, quality of DNA samples, and the various methods to generate genetic data for your species of interest. Finally you will be introduced to the various file types you will encounter when conducting studies that use NGS to generate genotype data.

Lecture breakdown
•    Introduce yourself and your research interests
•    Discuss study design: DNA sample sources, quality of DNA, sample sizes
•    Discuss genetic data collection methods: whole genome sequencing, capture (exon or mtDNA), RADseq, SNP panel
•    Introduce various file types (fastq, fasta, SAM/BAM, vcf, BED, program specific inputs)

•    Explore fastq sequence files typically generated by sequencing software
•    Check quality of fastq files using FastQC
•    Trim data to remove adapters, poor quality data

Part 2 – Alphabet soup (E. Jensen)
In this second half of day one you will learn how to assemble your raw sequence data to a reference genome, and learn how to assess quality of your assembly. You will be introduced to de novo approaches for studies where your species does not have a reference genome available. Finally, you will learn the basics of SNP genotype calling, and haplotype calling.

Lecture breakdown
•    Accessing reference genomes, understanding their quality, “in-group” reference bais
•    General introduction to de novo approaches
•    General introduction to the idea of SNP calling

•    Examine the files associated with a reference genome, and index it
•    Assemble reads to the genome using BWA
•    Check the quality of assembly, filter the data using BAM
•    Call SNPs using BCFtools mpileup/call, generate a VCF output file of genotypes





Dr. Evelyn L. Jensen  - Lecturer in Molecular Ecology, Newcastle University, UK


Dr. Jensen is a conservation geneticist and molecular ecologist, with research spanning the globe. Current research focuses on the evolution and conservation of Galapagos giant tortoises, population genomics of South American kelp and UK goats, metabarcoding plankton and sedimentary DNA (among other things :))




Dr. Catherine Cullingham - Assistant Professor, Carleton University, CA


Dr. Cullingham is a molecular ecologist with broad research interests spanning wildlife conservation, pathogen and disease spread, and how species ranges, and interactions are changing with climate change.  Currently her lab is working on the genomics of pine trees, mountain pine beetles, mosquito borne diseases and a few other side projects




 Teaching assistant

Sarah Griffin , PhD Candidate, Newcastle University, UK


Sarah is investigating Vespa velutina (Asian hornets), a predator of native pollinator insects, and Meloidogyne fallax (false Columbia root knot nematodes), a nematode which burrows into the roots of crops. She is using single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within Genotyping in Thousands by Sequencing (GT-seq) assays to genotype individuals from nests of Asian hornets and crop samples infected with root knot nematodes to better understand relatedness between samples and invasion pathways.




COst overview

Package 1


480 €

Cancellation Policy:




> 30  days before the start date = 30% cancellation fee


< 30 days before the start date= No Refund.




Physalia-courses cannot be held responsible for any travel fees, accommodation or other expenses incurred to you as a result of the cancellation.