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EBC Trends in Conservation Biology


Admission requirements

You must be a master student. Preferably you followed the Fundamentals of Evolution, Biodiversity and Conservation Biology


Conservation Biology studies the relations between human activity, environmental quality and biodiversity. It thereby contributes to the protection and sustainable use of natural resources, with a focus on biodiversity. A general framework is based on the causal chains; both in the physical environment (from drivers, via chemical, physical, biological pressures, via state, to impacts) and society (from impacts, via response of different actors, to drivers). Principles from both the ecological and the social sciences are used to investigate these relations within specific temporal and spatial scales. The research is mainly problem-orientated, the focus is on the physical environment and biodiversity, but the problem is always placed in a multi-disciplinary perspective with the involvement of the social sciences.

The course trends in conservation biology focus on the research themes within the Department of Conservation Biology. The first three weeks will be dedicated to these research themes. In the mornings lectures are given. Self working teams, preparation of assignments and possibly excursions will be scheduled in the afternoons. One week will focus on the impacts of chemical stressors on biodiversity. Of the chemical stressors only a selection will get attention: (heavy) metals, pesticides and (residuals of) anti-biotics and medicines. Research on the impacts of these chemicals on biodiversity is mainly restricted to surface waters (macro-invertebrates, fish) and soil (invertebrates). Another week will focus on biological stressors of biodiversity. Of the biological stressors mainly introgression of genes and the introduction of exotic species will be discussed. Main impacts are on the level of ‘natural’ populations of native species. And a third week the impacts of (changes in) land use will be dealt with, with a focus on human dominated (western) landscapes. An important topic will be agriculture and nature, but also case studies on specific faunal groups (e.g., meadow birds, urban birds) will get attention. The final week will focus on integration of the knowledge and skills of the first three weeks, within the framework of ecological restoration. How to restore ecosystems, landscapes, nature reserves damaged by the chemical or biotic pollution, or by changes in land use, (like fragmentation). How important are the different conservational problems in different areas and systems? How to develop restoration plans taking into account all these different treats to biodiversity?
h3. Learning goals

Course objectives:
The objective of this course is to give the student a state-of-the-art insight of scientific developments in conservation biology, and to learn to use this information in an integrative way.

Final qualifications:
Knowledge of effects of chemical and biological stressors on ecosystems and biodiversity; knowledge of the effects of land use and spatial arrangement of habitat on populations of threatened species and knowledge on ecological restoration. Learned skills include the use of models to assess the distribution and effects of chemical compounds, the risk-analysis of exotic species, the use of conceptual environmental models to assess effects on endangered populations. The development of integrated assessment and restoration plans of damaged ecosystems is one of the final skills.


In the mornings, the environmental themes and related topics are discussed based on presentations by internal and external experts and selected literature.
The afternoons are preserved for assignments and presentations.

Mode of instruction

Lectures, excursions, assignments, presentations, and working groups.

Assessment method



Blackboard will be used.

Reading list

Literature on Blackboard and lecture handouts.



Enroll in Blackboard

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for more information on how to apply.

Contact information

Dr. Wil L.M. Tamis; telephone: 071 – 527 7479;


Costs: for excursions a contribution might be asked (several tens of €).