School > Practical informations


The School will take place at the European Institut of Research on the Sea (IUEM), a beautiful place close to Brest during 6 days, from April 1st to April 6th.

Details are given on the dedicated practical informations page.


Contents of the school (details are given in the course document)

  • Active learning via practical exercises                        7.5 h
  • Theory (lectures)                                                        14h
  • Research question formulation (group discussions)       6h
  • Debate (plenary discussions)                                       2h
  • Individual "Pet projects" working time                         12h
  • Presenting results of individual projects                       3h

Practical exercices (7.5 h)

Objective: Parameter estimation on the basis of the submitted mydata- file in small groups.

Each group will be assisted by the team. In addition to the task and learning objectives outlined below, these exercices will also be used to provide Matlab and DEBtool training and basics in statistical and numerical methods for those who have an interest in it.

Individual "Pet projects" (12 h)

Objective: Parameter estimation on the basis of your own mydata- file. Every person will be assisted by the team. In addition to the task and learning objectives outlined below, this time working on the projects will also be used to provide Matlab and DEBtool training and basics in statistical and numerical methods for those who have an interest in it.

Several participants from DEB2017 used the work performed in their project as a basis for work they subsequently published in the DEB2017 Special issue on DEB theory.


  • compose a predict_my_pet file for your pet
  • estimate parameters values using run_my_pet
  • compute over 100 implied properties of your pet
  • compare resulting parameters with those of other animal taxa

Learning objectives:


Pet presentation of main findings.

Lectures (14 h)

Information and content of the lectures will be published in the school document. The lectures will summarize the information learned in the tele-course, and then teach how to compose and entry, check the realisms of parameter values, as well as provide ecological background to how parameters are applied in practice for ongoing research projects. Future directions of the theory as well as its historical roots will be decribed.

Group discussions (6H)

There will be 6-8 people per group discussion. The chair(wo)man appoints a reporter, who will summarize the discussion during 5 min in the plenary discussions. In each hour, 2 participants have a 10 min presentation on the problem that they submitted in 0.5 A4 at the end of the tele-part, followed by a 10 min discussion per presentation.

The remaining time (some 10 min per hour) we discuss:

  • TOPIC 1 : Theories vs. models: What is the difference between them and how are they related, particularly in the context of DEB theory? Sub questions could be: Can you have theory-free models, and when would they be useful? Can you use theories without models? Can you have mechanistic models without formal theory? How are parameters interpreted in theoretical and empirical models? When is it ok to modify models from theoretical expectation?
  • TOPIC 2: Future developments – Starting points could be to read some of the comments to "Physics of Metabolic Organisation" by Jusup et al [19]. Patricia Holden – Galik & Forbes – Bas Kooijman -  Pecquerie & Lika (but there are others). You can also look at the DEB research program, developments, applications pages from the DEB wiki.
  • TOPIC3: evaluation of tele- and practical course with respect to learning objectives

The reporters will summarize the findings of these discussions in the plenary discussion. The chairmen reports the conclusions of the last evaluation discussion to the organizer. The composition of the groups will be a matter of self-organization, but we reshuffle after the first plenary discussion, again by self-organization.

Plenary discussions (2H)

The reporters of the discussion groups report at the plenary session for 5 min each, leaving some 30 min for discussion with all of the participants simultaneously.

Pet presentations (3H)

We ask successful participants to present their results briefly; experts giving comments. If time allows we will compare the parameter values and give a short presentation of the findings.


Items to bring to Brest

You can read online about travel info.

Please bring with you :

  • Walking shoes
  • Laptop with matlab 2006 or higher
  • Recent version of DEBtool and  AmPtool
  • A well prepared mydata file for your pet
  • Netlogo
  • NichMapperR (DEB in practice IV)
  • List of participants (we skip introductions) :

If you don't have a Matlab license, there are two viable options:

  • Download the free 30-day trial version from Organize it so that these 30 days includes your visit to Brest
  • Buy the Student version of Matlab if you are a student at a university. The student version apparently has all the capabilities of Matlab and is cheap (35 Euro excl. VAT for the basic program).
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