Isotopes in Spatial Ecology and Biogeochemistry (SPATIAL Short Course)


The SPATIAL (Spatio-temporal Isotope Analytics Lab) Short Course represents a bridge between theory and measurement, introduced in ITCE Course 1, and regional-to-continental scale research. It builds on the skills and knowledge base developed in Course 1 or equivalent stable isotope biogeochemistry coursework to introduce current research themes in large-scale ecology and environmental Earth science, theoretical and technical aspects of assembling and working with large, spatially distributed datasets, and analytical and computational tools available to support such work. The course emphasizes stable isotopes as a research tool, and their unique capacity to address many ecological problems, but also stresses the integration of isotopes with other data types and methods within a geospatial framework.


Morning lectures focus on the theoretical underpinnings of spatial structure in a range of isotopic systems and how these are applied to address scientific challenges in multi-scale ecological, biogeochemical and Earth science research. Afternoon laboratory sessions introduce students to tools and techniques for working with spatially explicit environmental datasets, including geodata identification, acquisition, management, and analysis, using real data from published and unpublished sources.


Earth surface systems - Environmental, biological, and anthropogenic controls on ecological and biogeochemical structure

Fluid systems - Source, transport, and reactive process controls on the distribution of isotopic and other biogeochemical tracers

Animal systems (including humans) - Inference of behavior, physiology and movement from spatial data; animal influences on biogeochemical systems


The SPATIAL course will assume that incoming students are familiar with the fundamentals of isotopic fractionation in key Earth systems (water cycle, carbon cycle, nitrogen cycle, plant and animal systems). These topics will be reviewed briefly during relevant lectures, but not covered in detail. Graduates of ITCE Course 1 or individuals with equivalent experience will be given preference in admissions decisions. Experience with GIS or spatial analysis is not required but beneficial.


  • June 10-21, 2019
  • Venue: Frederick Albert Sutton Building, University of Utah
  • Enrollment limit: 25 (lecture + lab), 10 (lecture only)
  • Graduate level credit hours: 6 (lecture + lab), 3 (lecture only)
  • Fees: $2,300 (lecture + lab), $1,150 (lecture only)
    • Includes all course materials, TRAX pass, lab resources, and several evening meals when evening lectures occur.
    • Financial support available to a limited number of graduate students. If interested, please apply for participant support when submitting your course application.
  • Lodging: Lodging rates are negotiated each year, and range from about $60-$90 per day, depending on room type and occupancy.
  • Meals: Dinners are provided when evening lectures are scheduled (5-6 meals), and hot breakfast is included in the hotel lodging. Attendees are responsible for all other meals during the course. (For your convenience, hotel rooms have fully equipped kitchens for the preparation and storage of food.) There are other dining options on or near campus.
  • Priority application window for the 2019 course will be December 10th, 2018 through February 8th, 2019.

2018 Course Schedule

To view last summer's schedule of events, click here.




ITCE News!

2019 SPATIAL short course will be held June 10-21

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IsoMAP is a dynamic, online workspace for spatial analysis, modeling and prediction of stable isotope ratio variation in the natural environment. Visit IsoMAP to learn more or to start making isoscapes today!