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


Studiepunten 3.00

One day excursion60
Course coordinator(s)dr. J van Ruijven
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. F Berendse
dr. J Limpens
dr. D van der Hoek
prof. dr. MGC Schouten
dr. ir. MMPD Heijmans
prof. dr. KV Sykora
Examiner(s)prof. dr. KV Sykora
dr. J Limpens
prof. dr. F Berendse

Language of instruction:

Dutch and/or English

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 coastal and dune landscape in Kwade Hoek and Meijendel;
- the sand landscape in Drenthse Aa;
- the (deteriorated) peat landscape in Haaksbergerveen (bogs) and Westbroek (fens);
- chalk/loess landscape in Valley of the Hohn (B).
The excursion sites were specifically 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 how 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 exam.


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

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