Animal model - quantitative genetic techniques for animal and plant studies

13-15 July 2009


This course is an introduction into the application and use of "Animal Model" quantitative genetic analysis techniques.

The "Animal Model" is a generalized linear mixed model (GLMM) that uses pedigree information to partition the observed phenotypic variance of a trait into various genetic and environmental components. It is hence used to estimate genetic variance and heritability of observed traits. It can equally be applied in a multivariate way to estimate genetic covariances and genetic correlations between traits. The "Animal Model" is particularly useful for animal and plant breeding, as well as quantitative field or laboratory data on animal or plant phenotypes, when genealogical information (a pedigree) over several (at least two) generations is available.


Katharina Foerster, "Maître Assistant" at the University of Neuchâtel.
She has been working in Edinburgh, in the lab of Loeske Kruuk (see also Kruuk. 2004, Estimating genetic parameters in natural populations using the 'animal model', Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B 359, 873-890) where she applied the "Animal Model" to the evolution of red deer populations (Foerster & al. 2007, Sexually antagonistic genetic variation for fitness in red deer, Nature 447, 1107-1110).


A prerequisite for this course is some knowledge of mixed model analysis, from former experience or from the course on "Mixed Models in Statistics course" organized in Lausanne (1-3 July 2009) by the Doctoral Programme Ecology and Evolution.


During the three-day course, morning sessions will provide theoretical lectures, and afternoon sessions will include hands-on practicals where the students will gain experience in running "Animal models" using simulated datasets.

  • Short introduction to quantitative genetics and the "Animal Model" approach.
  • Focus on practical guidelines and examples on how to run "Animal Models" using appropriate software.

We specifically invite students who will have own data ready to be analysed, since there will be time during the course to work on data and get specific help from the tutors.

general information

Date: 13-15 July 2009, 9.00 - 17.00

Location: University of Neuchâtel, Faculty of Sciences, UniMail, room Millenium building E 026

Schedule: 8.55 - 17.05

Credit points: 1.5 credit points (Research tools)

Evaluation: Active participation

Information: Please contact directly Dr Katarina Foerster (katharina.foerster (at) unine.ch

Travel expenses: NCCR Ph.D. participants 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) at the end of the term  to Dr. Christiane Bobillier.  No reimbursement for bus, taxi or car travel expenses will be paid.


This course is opened to all Ph.D. students. However, priority is given to "Inter-University Doctoral program Ecology and Evolution" and "Interuniversity Doctoral Program of Organismal Biology" participants. Postdocs are welcome depending on availability. This course is free.

Minimum number of participants: 8, maximum: 18 (15 + 3 with own laptop computer).

Registration through the web only: closed. Course full.

Deadline: 1 July 2009