BIS-21306 Webs of Terrestrial Diversity


Studiepunten 6.00

Practical extensively supervised12
Practical intensively supervised18
Field Practical86
Course coordinator(s)dr. LW Chatrou
Lecturer(s)dr. LW Chatrou
prof. dr. PC de Ruiter
dr. ir. J Helder
dr. ir. L Joosten
dr. S Simon
MSc S Mohammadin
Examiner(s)dr. LW Chatrou

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

Flora and Fauna of the Netherlands (BIS-10306); Evolution and Systematics (GEN-11306); Population and Systems Ecology (CSA-20806) or Ecology of Communities, Ecosystems and Landscapes (NCP-22303)


Note: This course has a maximum number of participants. The deadline for registration is one week earlier than usual. See 2013/2014 Academic Year ( -> Registration for Courses 2013-2014.

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 week in Wageningen, followed by two weeks of field work in the Pyrenees, and concluded by a week 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, a plant and animal recognition test, and a small number of presentations. The grades for the separate elements will be computed using a weighted average. A grade below 4.6 for any of the components cannot be compensated by grades for the remaining components.


The manual will be available at a compulsory, introductory meeting prior to the start of the course.

Verplicht voor: BBIBiologyBScD: Ecology and Biodiversity6WD