NCP-22303 Ecology of Communities, Ecosystems and Landscapes: Field Excursions


Credits 3.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Excursion (one day)60
Independent study
Course coordinator(s)dr. J Limpens
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. ir. D Kleijn
dr. J Limpens
prof. dr. MGC Schouten
dr. ir. MMPD Heijmans
dr. J van Ruijven
dr. P Vergeer
Examiner(s)dr. J Limpens

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

NCP-21803 Ecology of Communities, Ecosystems and Landscapes: Theory.

Continuation courses:

NCP-30306 Plant Vegetation and Systems Ecology.


During the field trips we will visit 6 distinct (semi-) natural landscape types in the Netherlands and pay special attention to the relationships between the abiotic landscape components (geomorphology, soil type, hydrology, hydrochemistry) and the biotic components (vegetation, animals) at different spatial and temporal scales. Depending on landscape type, attention will also be paid to human (management, disturbance) influences.
Landscapes to be visited are:
- the dune landscape in Meijendel;
- the sand landscape in Drenthse Aa;
- the (deteriorated) peat landscape in Haaksbergerveen (bogs) and Westbroek (fens);
- the chalk/loess landscape in Geuldal and Wylre akkers;
- the typically Dutch polder landscape at the Eempolder near Amersfoort.
Most of the excursion sites were selected for their relatively intact abiotic gradients (dry - wet, acidic - calcareous etc) with well-developed associated vegetation types. Relatively undisturbed landscapes are a prerequisite to show the relationships between environment and vegetation and to provide a good reference: in order to recognize a disturbed vegetation or ecosystem you need to know what an intact vegetation or ecosystem looks like. In the field the importance of different landscape processes for species composition of the vegetation will be discussed and vegetation composition will be shown to elucidate landscape processes. The focus during the excursions will be on indicative plant species and plant communities, supported by simple measurements on abiotic conditions. The recognition of plant communities and plant species is not a goal in itself but plant communities and species are used as a tool, i.e. as bio-indicators, to recognize the dominant abiotic processes in the landscape and their influence on the diversity of plant and animal communities.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- recognize the relationships between abiotic (e.g. soil type, hydrology) and biotic processes (e.g. competition, grazing, N fixation) at different spatial scales;
- illustrate species adaptations to stressful environmental conditions, such as high salinity or low-light environments, and the feedbacks to ecosystem functioning;
- relate indicative plant species and traits to distinct environmental conditions;
- relate vegetation composition to predominant landscape processes;
- describe and explain the ecological background of nature management measures.


- lectures;
- field excursions;
- simple measurements.


Written test with 0-2 closed (like multiple choice) and 18-20 open questions, with 3-4 questions per landscape type visited during the excursions.


Frank Berendse. (2011). Natuur in Nederland. KNNV Uitgeverij. ISBN 9789050113762.
Made available at start course through WUR-shop.
Excursion guide.

Compulsory for: BBNForest and Nature ConservationBSc6WD
BESEnvironmental SciencesBScB: Environmental Quality and Systems Analysis6WD
Compulsory for: WUBDVBSc Minor Biodiversity: from Micro to Macro and from Cause to Consequence6WD
WUFNCBSc Minor Forest and Nature Conservation6WD