AEW-20706 Practical Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Field practical29
Independent study
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. MFLLW Lürling
Lecturer(s)dr. ir. MFLLW Lürling
prof. dr. AA Koelmans
dr. ir. JJM de Klein
ing. JAJ Beijer
Examiner(s)dr. ir. MFLLW Lürling

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

AEW-21306 Soil and Water II.


The aim of this practical is to illustrate the functioning of aquatic ecosystems and to acquaint students with the research methods that have been developed to analyse the most important processes. In particular the oxygen- and carbon cycle will be studied, as well as the productivity of algal- and water plant-dominated systems. A few selected processes will be studied in detail by means of field and laboratory experiments (reaeration, primary production, predator-prey interactions). Relations between dominant organisms will be studied. In the second week, in-depth limnological training will be given at the research and training site Lake Rauwbraken. This four-day intense field practical includes camping at the site, where the focus will be on the limnology of a deep lake. Irradiance, temperature and oxygen take the lead here: irradiance and temperature steering the process of primary production and oxygen level being the response. However, also other water quality variables will be addressed and a search for the cause of extinction and turbidity will be undertaken. Close attention will be given to some of the key players in aquatic food chains. A detailed description of abundance and spatial distributions of some of these organisms (macrophytes, macrofauna and zooplankton) will be made. The fish community will be sampled. The results will be used in (simple) models in order to simulate the processes.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- set up and perform an experiment;
- set up a monitoring programme that meets the ambient environmental limitations;
- rationalize and evaluate the selection of a sampling technique;
- describe dynamical abiotic processes in aquatic systems;
- describe biological processes and interactions in aquatic systems;
- recognize different relations between biota and habitats;
- apply simple models to describe selected processes in aquatic systems;
- recognize different water types on the basis of structural and functional characteristics;
- present the results of an experiment to a critical audience;
- work with a lab/field notebook.


- make a workplan of an elaborate experiment;
- do experiments in the laboratory as well as in the field;
- extrapolate results of laboratory experiments to the field situation;
- analyse results;
- apply existing models
- compare own results with literature data;
- give a presentation of a part of the research.


- written closed book exam (10%);
- presentation/reports (group 40%);
- presence, participation and/or results during course activities (individual; 50%).
Successful partial interim examinations remain valid for a period of three years.


A manual and lecture notes will be distributed during the course.

Restricted Optional for: BSWSoil, Water, AtmosphereBSc6WD
MEEEarth and EnvironmentMScC: Biology and Chemistry of Soil and Water6WD
MESEnvironmental SciencesMSc6WD
Restricted Optional for: WUMLRBSc Minor Marine Living Resources6WD