Systems ecology deals with ecological concepts that underpin the functioning of ecosystems, with emphasis on the aquatic environment, and on aspects of biodiversity related to the environment. You will gain solid insight in the networks of interactions between the abiotic and biotic elements that give rise to the complex system of an ecology at all scales, from the flow of energy to trying to understand the non-linear dynamics of of ecosystem responses to enviro-climatic change. In Systems Ecology you will take an interdisciplinary approach which bridges the areas of (wetland) ecology, biogeochemistry, community ecology, animal/plant ecology and ecosystem ecology.
Specifically, you will
- learn about the most important ecological theories, and apply these theories to explain how species have adapted to their (a)biotic environment
- use concepts from ecological theory to argument the presence of certain patterns in biological communities and the landscape
- be able to recognise characteristic plant- and animal species for typical ecosystems on the island of Terschelling (eg. coastal and dune systems) and use this knowledge to discuss important processes in the ecosystem.
- perform experiments, analyse data and draw conclusions regarding the functioning of ecosystems in the light of nature conservation.
- additional skills: working with peers, presentation skills, scientific communication.
Systems Ecology is broken down in three core sections. In the first section you will lay down the basics on ecological theory and you will will apply that knowledge to write an opinion paper/essay about a current topic in ecology. The second section will be based on the Dutch Island of Terschelling where you will learn to read the landscape using you newly acquired ecological knowledge. On Terschelling you will also perform research to test hypotheses you have developed. The last section of the course will be partly lab based. You will analyse some samples gathered in the field. You will further analyse the results and present them.
This course addresses ecological concepts that underpin the organisation and functioning of ecosystems. It will address at least the following topics:
- Introduction: defining ecological systems
- Energy and matter fluxes in ecosystems
- Niches: concepts and theory
- Patterns in species richness: the importance of interactions and feedbacks
- Biodiversity - Ecosystem Functioning
- Transitions and patterns in ecosystems (alternative stable states, self-organisation, trophic interactions)
- Anthropogenic influences, incl. climate change, on ecosystems and its functions
You will further familiarise yourself with:
- Flora and fauna, and their relationship to habitat quality
- Characteristic ecosystems of the Island of Terschelling
- Ecological research principles: experimental set-up, sampling, monitoring, biogeochemical analyses
- Field excursion and hands-on research
- Lab work
- Tutorials (data analysis, reporting)
For the course “Systems Ecology” we expect proficiency in English which as the main language of the lectures, practicals and assignments. This module will build on knowledge gained at the first year modules on Ecology and Biodiversity. Hence, we expect a proficient level on basic and applied ecology, and the principles of biodiversity.
A grade ≥ 5 must be obtained for the written exam. Such minimum mark does not hold for the other components, but a pass (≥ 5.5) must be obtained for the overall course. Active participation in the field component (Terschelling part), and laboratory part of the course is mandatory.
- Written exam (50%)
- Field test (incl. the opinion paper) Terschelling (10%)
- Report (30%)
- Final presentation (10%)
- It is compulsory to partake in the field component of this course, which will take place from 26 September trough 3 October 2022 –weekend included– on the Dutch island of Terschelling.
- Lectures, lab work and tutorials for this course will take place on Thursday and Friday. Lab days on 6 and 7 October are compulsory.
- Students are asked to contribute €160 towards travel (train, boat, bike rent), accommodation, and subsistence.
- In case of travel restrictions of governmental restriction that restrict travelling and gathering with a larger group of students, the course content may be adjusted, notably the field component.
- In the case of not being able to attend one or more practical courses/lab days due to governmental restrictions, the course coordinator will decide if the student is obligated to re-take the missed meeting and how this will take place.
- Contact: Ms. Yvet Telgenkamp (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Dr. Bjorn Robroek (email@example.com).
- Please note that every student that enrols in this course will be placed on the waiting list. If you enrol, you agree with the financial contribution; no-show students will still be charged. Enrolment can only be effectuated by sending a brief (max. 250 words) motivation statements to Yvet Telgenkamp (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- If the maximum capacity (40 students) is exceeded, and in case if comparable motivation, students in the Ecology/'Green' trajectory receive priority. We will make a final decision on enrolment when the deadline for enrolments is past due, so please make sure to enrol for a back-up course in time!