Biodiversity and Ecological Assessment
Course infoSchedule
Course moduleNWI-BM040A
Credits (ECTS)3
CategoryMA (Master)
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byRadboud University; Faculty of Science; BioWetenschappen;
PreviousNext 5
dr. A. Benitez Lopez
Other course modules lecturer
dr. F.P.L. Collas
Other course modules lecturer
prof. dr. J.M. van Groenendael
Other course modules lecturer
dr. M.M. van Katwijk
Other course modules lecturer
dr. K.R. Koopman
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2018
Starting block
Course mode
RemarksFinal resit
Registration using OSIRISYes
Course open to students from other facultiesYes
Waiting listNo
Placement procedure-
The course is focused on competences, skills and knowledge that will be required for research on biological diversity and assessments of biodiversity in (aquatic) ecosystems. After successful participation in the course you are able within the context of scientific research and regional or global assessments for biodiversity outlooks or biological conservation in environmental management and spatial planning:
  • to contribute in a multidisciplinary team to a scientific review paper and an oral presentation that synthesizes the current body of knowledge on a relevant biodiversity issue and concludes on innovative biodiversity research;
  • to apply biodiversity indicators and to perform a biodiversity assessment for (riverine) ecosystems with the BIO-SAFE model
  • to derive species sensitivity distributions for environmental stressors, and subsequently to calculate potentially affected fractions of species assemblages and to reflect critically on uncertainties
  • to explain contemporary theory on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning and to critically reflect on indicators and approaches for biodiversity assessment.
This course consists of four learning units.
1. Biological diversity: scientific concepts and theory
This learning unit deals with concepts and theory on biological diversity. The focus will be on key questions, such as: What is a species, what is biodiversity? How to measure and to value biodiversity at various spatial and temporal scales? What are key factors determining biological diversity? In addition, attention will be paid to extinction of species (the concept of critical population size; irreplaceable species, global biodiversity and indicators of recent decline) and conservation of biodiversity (legal protection of biodiversity and restoration measures for biodiversity).

2. Species diversity and ecosystem functioning
The second learning unit deals with the role of biodiversity in ecosystem functioning. This issue will be elaborated for various types of wetlands such as riverine ecosystems and mangroves-seagrass-coral reef systems.

3. Biodiversity assessment and valuation
This learning unit focuses on criteria for protected areas with respect to species conservation, ecological status assessments in water- and nature management, species sensitivity analyses and extinction risks of species. Moreover, biodiversity assessment and valuation will be elaborated for a case study on biodiversity in riverine ecosystems (e.g., the application of the BIO-SAFE model).

4. Current themes in biodiversity research
The course will be concluded with reviews of current themes in biodiversity research, such as biodiversity in relation to ecosystem status assessment, ecosystem services, ecosystem engineers, novel ecosystems, economical values, agricultural practice, aquaculture/fisheries, human encroachment, species sensitivity distributions, species extinction and biological invasions.
Additional comments
Please note that due to the preparations of the practical part, you need to register for this course 4 weeks before the start

This course focusses on contemporary scientific concepts and theoretical backgrounds concerning biological diversity and scientific sound indicators for biodiversity assessments. Subsequently, the focus will be on the importance of biodiversity for functioning of aquatic ecosystems, the assessment of biodiversity values in riverine systems and extinction risks of species. The course will be concluded with reviews on current themes in biodiversity research.

Test information
Assessment of project assignments and written exam

BSc Biology or Environmental Sciences.

Contact information
Prof. Dr. Rob Leuven (r.leuven@science,.ru.nl)

Required materials
All study materials will be available via Blackboard: - Course manual 2017-2018 with general information (part a) and study assignments (part b); - Scientific literature (all journal papers can be accessed via e-library of Radboud University.

Instructional modes

Lectures related to four learning units of the course

Practical computer training
Attendance MandatoryYes

Study group assignment with BIO-SAFE model

Attendance MandatoryYes

Reviews of current themes in biodiversity research

Project presentation
Attendance MandatoryYes

Presentation outcomes of project current themes in biodiversity research


33 hours self-tuition, using learning materials


Tutorial on computer assignment with model BIO-SAFE

Final resit
Test weight1
OpportunitiesBlock KW2

Final Resit