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Research PhD courses

Life History Theory

This course is fully booked!


Prof. Simon Verhulst (Behavioural & Physiological Ecology, GELIFES), Prof. Kees van Oers (.... , NIOO) & Prof. Ido Pen (Theoretical Biology, GELIFES)
Dr. Corine Eising (RSEE)

Aim of the course

Life History Theory deals with species-specific adaptive schemes of the distribution of the reproductive effort over the life of an organism. The general theoretical problem is to predict which combination of traits will evolve under specific conditions. The concepts used are also relevant to study within species variation in life history traits. The one week course aims at giving an overview of the field and will discuss methodology and recent developments.

Contents & Structure

The subject will be worked out on the basis of lectures, case histories, discussion and literature. Attention will be paid to various groups of organisms such as birds, fishes, insects and plants. The contact with current research projects is guaranteed as concrete examples will be treated by scientists working in the field. In poster sessions work and/or plans of the participating students will be discussed with the whole group and we will use computers to illustrate some of the concepts.

Topics and Teachers:

Life History Theory, Cost of reproduction and aging in a life history context, Calculating fitness (Simon Verhulst, GELIFES)

Evolutionary genomics, Personality, Epignetics and life history trade-offs (Kees van Oers, NIOO)

Life History evolution in social insects, practicals (Ido Pen)

Additional topics will be added as soon as we know who this edition's guest lecturers will be!! Stay tuned....

Provisional Program:
Sunday 12 December 2021: Arrival, Registration and Dinner at the course venue, Field station the Herdershut, Schiermonnikoog, the Netherlands

19:45 h Arrival at the "Herdershut", simple meal, arrangement of lodging, short session on who is who

PLEASE NOTE: due to unforeseen circumstances we've had to change our programme. Therefore, a few titles and topics will be updated in the coming period.

17.00 - 19.00 Welcome, sleeping arrangements, drinks & dinner
19.30 - 20.00 Introduction to the course (Simon Verhulst )
20.00 - 21.30 Poster presentation by participants

Monday 13 December :

08:00-08:45 Breakfast
09:00-10:30 Simon Verhulst The basics of life history evolution
10:30-11:00 Coffee
11:00-12:30 Simon Verhulst Optimality in evolutionary ecology
12:30-13:30 Lunch
13:30-15:00 Simon Verhulst Calculating fitness (bring your own PC)
15:00-15:30 Tea
15:30-17:30 Poster presentation by participants
18:00-19:00 Dinner
19:30-21:00 TBD

Tuesday 14 December :

08:00-08:45 Breakfast
10:30-11:00 Coffee
12:30-13:30 Lunch


15:00-15:30 Tea
18:00-19:00 Dinner

Wednesday 15 December :

08:00-08:45 Breakfast
09:00-10:30 Ido Pen Life-history evolution in social insects
10:30-11:00 Coffee
12:30-13:30 Lunch
13:30-17:30 Ido Pen Practical Life History Evolution in Social Insects
18:00-19:00 Dinner
19:30-21:00 Group discussion

Thursday 16 December :

08:00-08:45 Breakfast
09:00-10:30 Kees van Oers Epigentics and lif-history trade-offs
10:30-11:00 Coffee
11:00-12:30 Kees van Oers Animal personalities
12:30-13:30 Lunch
14:30-15:00 Tea
18:00-19:00 Dinner

Friday 17 December :

08:00-08:45 Breakfast
09:00-10:30 Workshop
10:30-11:00 Coffee
11:00-12:30 Discussion session How does your own PhD project relate to Evolution of Life histories?
12:30-13:30 Lunch
13:30-14:30 Cleaning up
14:30-15:30 Tea or simple dinner (soup)
16:30 Boat departure - End of course

General Information
Required knowledge & preparation Poster: You have to make a poster on your own work to be discussed at the course. Send in your poster as pdf before 22 November at the very latest and prepare a short 5-minute powerpoint presentation (3-5 slides) to start the discussion on your poster. We will print the posters in a booklet so you can read them before the discussion.
A digital copy of the book by Roff (1992), The Evolution of Life Histories: Theory and Analysis will be made available via the RSEE Office to the course participants.
Course material Because we will run computer simulations, PhD students should bring along their laptop.
Course credits 2.5 ECTS
Location Field Station The Herdershut, Heereweg 10, 9166 SE, Schiermonnikoog, phone 0519-531363
Duration & date 5 days; the course starts Sunday night the 12th of December and ends Friday the 17th of December 2021
Costs The registration fee is PROVISIONALLY € 350,- for all participants belonging to the RSEE and affiliated research schools (PE&RC, WIMEK). All other participants pay € 500,-. This includes lodging, meals, and the course material at the course venue.
Participants The number of participants is limited to 20.
  • Simon Verhulst _BPEGroup, Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences (GELIFES), Linnaeusborg, P.O. Box 11103, 9700 CC Groningen.
  • Corine Eising (Coordinator Research School Ecology and Evolution, Linnaeusborg, P.O. Box 11103, 9700 CC Groningen, Phone: 0031 (0) 50 363 9140

This course is fully booked! 

Payment, Registration
and Cancellation
Please take note of our general course information on payment, registration and cancellation, applicable to all registrations.
Last modified:15 November 2021 6.21 p.m.