SANBI-GBIF training workshop for species distribution modelling using Maxent in R

Date: 5th – 8th March 2024

Venue: Iziko Museums of South Africa; Cape Town

Deadline for submissions: 9th February 2024


SANBI is the home of the South African Node of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and is funded by the Department of Science and Innovation. Its vision is to contribute to South Africa’s sustainable development by facilitating access to biodiversity and related information on the internet. This course ties into SANBI-GBIF’s strategy to develop biodiversity informatics skills nationally.

Through this course, it is intended to focus on the use and application of data and in this way ensuring that information is relevant and can ultimately be used for improved decision making.
Participants will be introduced to the R software package, and will learn about species distribution models using Maxent in R, data types and sources, and how to handle species occurrence data.

Workshop Information

SANBI-GBIF is hosting a training workshop focused on technical skills in using R to do species distribution modelling. The course will be conducted by Dr Vernon Visser from the Centre for Statistics in Ecology, the Environment and Conservation (SEEC) at the University of Cape Town. The venue will be the Iziko Museums of South Africa, Cape Town from Tuesday the 5th to Friday the 8th March 2024. The course will be conducted in English.

For logistical reasons workshop numbers are limited. Please look at the workshop agenda and only apply if the training is relevant. All participants will need to bring their own laptop to work on during the course.

Workshop agenda

The timing and some details of this agenda may be changed.

Day 1

  • What is species distribution modelling?
  • Data types and sources
  • R basics
  • Introduction to Maxent

Day 2

  • Handling species occurrence data
  • Incorporating environmental data
  • Using R to run SDMs (Maxent)

Day 3

  • Case study
  • Own example

Day 4

  • Agenda continues up to midday

Minimum requirements for participants

  1. Relevant Bachelor’s degree in natural or earth science such as biology, botany, zoology, forestry, geography, or a related field of biodiversity informatics, or Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Participants must have some experience in using R.
  2. Criteria for selection of participants will include:
    • Relevance of work / study to the course
    • Commitment to apply and disseminate skills.
  3. An effort will be made to ensure there is a racial, gender and national institutional representation among the participants.


No registration fee will be charged for the course. Refreshments and lunch will be provided. Participants are required to arrange their own transport and accommodation. Participants will need to have the use of a laptop throughout the training. SANBI-GBIF will consider applications for financial assistance for a limited number of participants. If assistance is available, expenses covered include economy airfare, accommodation, and ground transport. Bookings will be made by the SANBI-GBIF office. If you require funding, please indicate this on the application document (see below) and include a letter of motivation and CV with the application documents.

Application pack

Click here to access the online application form on Google Forms.

Please attach the following documents to the application:

  1. Brief CV
  2. Letter of support from your supervisor
  3. Letter of motivation for funding

Completed forms and documentation are due by 9th February 2024

For any queries please contact Fatima Parker-Allie or Minoli Appalasamy at SANBI, at email; or