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


Studiepunten 3.00

Field practical10
Excursion (one day)49
Independent study0
Course coordinator(s)JG van Paassen
Lecturer(s)dr. J Limpens
dr. J van Ruijven
prof. dr. ir. D Kleijn
H.G.J.M. van der Hagen
dr. ir. MMPD Heijmans
dr. P Vergeer
JG van Paassen
TPM Fijen
prof. dr. JHJ Schaminée
prof. dr. MGC (Matthijs) Schouten
dr. M de Jong
Examiner(s)dr. J Limpens

Language of instruction:

NL and/or EN

Assumed knowledge on:

PEN-21803 Ecology of Communities, Ecosystems and Landscapes: Theory.

Continuation courses:

PEN-30306 Plant Vegetation and Systems Ecology.


Note: This course can not be combined in an individual programme with SGL-23312 Landscape Geography.

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 dune landscape in Meijendel;
- the sand landscape in Drenthse Aa;
- the (deteriorated) peat landscape in Bargerveen (bogs) and Westbroek (fens);
- the chalk/loess landscape in Gerendal and neighborhood;
- the typically Dutch polder landscape in the Eempolder near Amersfoort.
Most of the excursion sites were 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 what 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 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 species.

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;
- abiotic measurements.


Written test with 0-2 closed (multiple choice) and 18-20 open questions, with 3-4 questions per landscape type visited during the excursions and 1 overarching question, connecting information from all excursions.


Excursion guide made available through WUR-shop

Verplicht voor: BBNForest and Nature ConservationBSc6WD
BESEnvironmental SciencesBScB: Spec. B - Environmental Quality and Systems Analysis6WD
Verplicht voor: WUFNCBSc Minor Forest and Nature Conservation6WD