NEM-90303 Functional Biodiversity


Credits 3.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Practical intensively supervised40
Course coordinator(s)prof. dr. ir. WH van der Putten
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. ir. WH van der Putten and invited guest lecturers
Examiner(s)prof. dr. ir. WH van der Putten


The awareness that current biodiversity decline exceeds extinction rates observed in the past has resulted in an explosive development of research on functions of biodiversity that may be lost. Results of these studies are controversial and have resulted in severe clashes between established researchers. But, this research also has yielded new insight to be applied to restoration and conservation of biodiversity, crop protection, and it has contributed to definitions of sustainability of production systems. In this course, we will start with an overview of theory: what determines biodiversity and what may be possible consequences of biodiversity loss for the functioning of ecosystems? We will also discuss theory on the relation of biodiversity and stability of ecological communities and of ecosystem processes (e.g. of nutrient fluxes). Then, we will discuss recent studies on the relationship between biodiversity and the functioning of ecosystems, partly highlighted by the researchers active in this field. We will discuss examples from the ecology as a whole, ranging from soil (micro)organisms, plants, animals (incl. birds) in terrestrial habitats, as well as some on aquatic and marine habitats. In an excursion, we will pay attention to how cutting edge biodiversity studies may be set up and how results may be applied.

Learning outcomes:

At the end of this course, the student will have solid insight in theory on (functional consequences of) functional biodiversity. The student will also have a wide overview on (crop) ecological studies on biodiversity in terrestrial systems, as well as on some biodiversity studies in aquatic and marine habitats.


Following of classes, and participation in practical topics and excursions


Written examination.

Compulsory for: WUBDVBSc Minor Biodiversity: from Micro to Macro and from Cause to Consequence6WD