SOQ-50806 Agrobiodiversity


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Field practical32
Excursion (one day)10
Course coordinator(s)dr. MM Pulleman
Lecturer(s)dr. ir. W van der Werf
dr. MM Pulleman
dr. ir. JCJ Groot
dr. ir. W Geertsema
Examiner(s)dr. ir. JCJ Groot
dr. ir. W van der Werf
dr. MM Pulleman
dr. ir. W Geertsema

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

2nd year level Ecology or Plant/Soil/Animal Sciences.

Continuation courses:

SOQ-33306 Integrated Natural Resource Management in Organic Agriculture; CSA-30806 Research Methods in Crop Science; FSE-30306 Analysis and Design of Organic Farming Systems; ENT-30306 Ecological Aspects of Bio-interactions.


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.

This course deals with agrobiodiversity in support of the production of food, fibre and fuel and the conservation of non-commodity species. Species extinctions continue to be a matter of extreme concern, although changes in agrobiodiversity in agricultural production systems have traditionally received less attention. It is now increasingly acknowledged in science and policies that biodiversity loss in agricultural landscapes can negatively affect a range of ecosystem services, including those that are essential for agricultural production.
The course examines the importance of biodiversity at the scale of agricultural fields, farms and the wider landscape to provide essential ecosystem services, such as nutrient cycling, pollination and natural pest regulation. The role of agrobiodiversity for the sustainability of agricultural production and resilience against stress and disturbances related to global change will be discussed. Options for the management of biodiversity in different scenarios of farm and landscape management will be evaluated during a *one-week field practical in the Hoeksche Waard, in collaboration with farmers. Both the ecological and social factors will be taken into account.
* Involves a week stay outside Wageningen in week 37 or 38. Students pay a contribution in the transport and living costs of 135 euros for one week.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- describe agro-ecosystems in terms of crop, livestock and associated biodiversity (above- and belowground);
- understand major concepts in biodiversity - ecosystem functions - ecosystem stability theory in the context of agricultural systems;
- explain the role of major groups of organisms comprising agrobiodiversity for provisioning, regulating and supporting ecosystem services;
- relate the spatial and temporal configuration of farm fields and other landscape elements to the incidence of species;
- calculate and interpret different indices that characterize biodiversity in agricultural fields and landscapes;
- discuss the role of biodiversity for food security and ecosystem services in a context of global change;
- understand biodiversity management in agricultural landscapes in an economic / societal context;
- analyse biodiversity and ecosystem services on farms and in surrounding landscapes;
- evaluate options for the management of biodiversity in different scenarios of farm and landscape management.


- lectures;
- field;
- laboratory;
- computer practicals;
- excursions.


- written test (40%) and group reports;
- two group reports for practical part 1 (together 20%);
- and one group report for practical part 2 (40%).
Each component needs a minimum mark of 5.5 to pass.


A reader will be provided.

Compulsory for: WUSPPBSc Minor Systems in Plant Production6WD
Restricted Optional for: WUSACBSc Minor Sustainable Agriculture and Consumption6WD