BIS-21306 Webs of Terrestrial Diversity


Studiepunten 6.00

Field practical80
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. CW Quist
dr. NE Fatouros
Lecturer(s)dr. ir. J Helder
ing. SJJ van den Elsen
dr. ir. K Bouwmeester
dr. NE Fatouros
ing. PGH Verbaarschot
dr. ir. CW Quist
dr. S Simon
dr. R van Velzen
EF Drukker
Examiner(s)dr. NE Fatouros

Language of instruction:


Mandatory knowledge:

ZSS06100 Laboratory Safety and ZSS06200 Fieldwork Safety

Assumed knowledge on:

BIS-10306 Biodiversity of The Netherlands; GEN-11306 Evolution and Systematics; CSA-20806 Population and Systems Ecology or PEN-22303 Ecology of Communities, Ecosystems and Landscapes: Field Excursions.


Note: This course has a maximum number of participants. Due to course logistics, students cannot register for this course later than March 13th.
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.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- recognise and classify groups of organisms that contribute to biodiversity in terrestrial ecosystems: vascular plants, arthropods, and nematodes/micro-organisms; 

- identify those groups by applying traditional as well present-day identification techniques, including DNA-based approaches; 

- carry out a research project: formulate and present research questions and a project proposal, carry out experimental work in the field, collect and record data, analyse results, and present the results in a mini-symposium;

Interpret and discuss the influence of the most important abiotic factors, geology and soil types on vegetation;

- explain and apply biodiversity indices for these groups of organisms; 

- discuss and explain the biology and ecology of these groups of organisms and understand the trophic interactions between plants, arthropods and nematodes/micro-organisms below- and above-ground;

- employ the phylogenetic relationships of vascular plants and arthropods.


The first 2 days consist of lectures and group work on literature search and formulating research questions for the research project. The lectures will provide the theoretical basis for the project work during the excursion. Then, during the 2-week excursion, recognition and identification of plants and insects will be learned and the projects will be designed, executed and data collected and recorded, all executed in small groups. The last 1,5 weeks consist of lab work on analysis of soil and insect samples collected during the excursion, analysis of results and oral presentation of the projects. Theoretical background will be provided for the lab work during the practical.


The final mark will be based on:
- a written examination consisting of short essay questions (33%);
- a recognition-identification test of plants and insects covered during the course (33%);
- group work, execution and presentation of research project (33%).


Course readers including a Fauna and Flora keys will be made available at the start of the course. Tirion's Nieuwe Insectengids and/or ANWB insectengids and Heukels Flora are optional but will also be available in limited numbers.

Verplicht voor: BBIBiologyBScD: Spec. D - Ecology6WD