BIS-21306 Webs of Terrestrial Diversity


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Field practical80
Course coordinator(s)dr. LW Chatrou
Lecturer(s)dr. NE Fatouros
dr. LW Chatrou
dr. ir. J Helder
dr. ir. RHMJ Lemmens
dr. S Simon
MSc S Mohammadin
JP van Leeuwen
dr. ir. CW Quist
PH Hoekstra
Examiner(s)dr. LW Chatrou

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

BIS-10306 Biodiversity of The Netherlands; GEN-11306 Evolution and Systematics; CSA-20806 Population and Systems Ecology or NCP-22303 Ecology of Communities, Ecosystems and Landscapes: Field Excursions.


Note: This course has a maximum number of participants. The deadline for registration is one week earlier than usual. See Academic Year. ( -> Registration for Courses.
Due to course logistics, students cannot register for this course later than March 13th.

All life is connected, both from an ecological viewpoint as well as an evolutionary perspective. Moreover, this connectedness is an essential attribute, at the level of populations, communities and ecosystems.
Food webs are descriptions of biological communities focusing on trophic interactions between consumers and resources. This way, trophic interactions represent pathways in the cycling of matter, energy and nutrients. Food web interactions significantly influence the dynamics and persistence of populations by determining the availability of resources and mortality rates due to predation. As a result, food webs are important drivers of biodiversity in ecosystems, and allow to upscale environmental effects from the level of individuals and population to that of ecosystems.
Food webs provide a comprehensive framework for this course, in which you will learn the theoretical background of these webs, as well as practical skills that allow you to dissect them. During field work at a range of sites and habitats in the highly biodiverse French Pyrenees, you will train your recognition and identification skills, by becoming acquainted with morphological traits, and by learning microscopic and DNA-based techniques. Furthermore, you will gather data for ecological and evolutionary analyses during the practicals in the Pyrenees, and you will gather samples to be analysed back in Wageningen.
The course starts with an introductory few days in Wageningen, followed by two weeks of field work in the Pyrenees, and concluded by a week and a half of analysis and the generation of end products.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- identify the major components of above- and below-ground diversity in the following groups of organisms: vascular plants, arthropods, and nematodes;
- explain the major theories that underlie food web ecology amongst these groups of organisms;
- outline the essential biology and ecology of groups of organisms that structure food webs in terrestrial ecosystems;
- outline the phylogenetic relationships of groups of organisms that structure food webs in terrestrial ecosystems;
- apply traditional as well present-day identification techniques, including DNA-based approaches;
- summarize and discuss the relationships between food web structure, stability, ecosystem functioning and adaptation.


- lectures;
- field excursions;
- literature search, chemical, biological and data analyses during practicals.


The examination consists of the following components:
- a written examination consisting of short essay questions (40%)
- a recognition-identification test of important organisms covered during the course (25%)
- a research project, concluded by an oral presentation (25%)
- field performance and active participation (10%).


Heukels' Flora van Nederland; Tirion's Nieuwe Insectengids. Additional course readers will be made available at the start of the course.

Compulsory for: BBIBiologyBScD: Ecology and Biodiversity6WD