SOQ-50806 Agrobiodiversity


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
One day excursion14
Practical extensively supervised10
Practical intensively supervised20
Field Practical32
Course coordinator(s)prof. dr. L Brussaard
dr. MM Pulleman
M Hoogmoed
Lecturer(s)dr. ir. FJJA Bianchi
dr. ir. W van der Werf
dr. MM Pulleman
dr. ir. JCJ Groot
Examiner(s)prof. dr. L Brussaard
dr. ir. JCJ Groot
dr. ir. W van der Werf
dr. MM Pulleman

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

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

Continuation courses:

SOQ-33306, CSA-30806, BFS-30306, ENT-30306


This course deals with agrobiodiversity as an asset for both agricultural production and the conservation and use of non-commodity species. While species extinctions continue to be a matter of extreme concern, changes in biodiversity in the world's agricultural landscapes have largely escaped attention. Implicitly, the world community has traded off biodiversity in these landscapes against the conservation of threatened endemics in protected areas. But biodiversity loss in agricultural landscapes also has an opportunity cost. It affects not just the production of food, feed, fuels and fibers, but also a range of ecological services. Although increasing attention is being paid to the environmental context of modern agriculture, its role in biodiversity conservation has been largely ignored.
The course aims to reconcile biodiversity theory with the conservation and use of species on- and off-farm in agricultural landscapes, recognizing that biodiversity is not a threat to agriculture, but a key to its sustainability, and also considering that biodiverse agriculture is often not a threat to wildland biodiversity, but may substantially increase the chances of its survival.
The course will also examine how the failure to recognize the wider role of biodiversity in agricultural landscapes underestimates the risks associated with the loss of important ecosystem services, such as supporting water supplies and resilience against stress and disturbances emanating from, e.g., climate change.

Learning outcomes:

- identify the major groups of organisms comprising agrobiodiversity;
- describe agro-ecosystems in terms of crop, livestock and associated biodiversity;
- describe agricultural landscapes in terms of Alpha-, Bèta- and Gamma-diversity;
- understand the relationships between above- and belowground biodiversity;
- relate species life-history traits and the spatial and temporal configuration of farm fields and other landscape elements to the incidence of species;
- link on- and off-farm land management to biodiversity and the provision of ecosystem services;
- evaluate options for the management of biodiversity in different scenarios of farm and landscape management.


Lectures; field, laboratory and computer practicals; excursions.


Written examination (50%), report and presentation of results of practicals (40%); participation in practicals and excursions (10%); al to be completed with mark equel to or higher than 5.5.


As provided during course.

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