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Patterns in Biodiversity


Admission requirements

This course is open for all students that are enrolled in the Minor Biodiversity and Natural Environment.

Contact information

Coordinator: Dr. M.C. Roos


The course Patterns in Biodiversity consists of three modules:

1. Introduction course: Biodiversity in the Dutch landscapes
This three weeks introduction starts with the theme of the minor and an introduction to all the different modules of the minor. In addition attention will be paid to philosophical and societal aspects of biodiversity. The main part of this module focuses on questions such as: Which Dutch landscapes can be distinguished and how are these landscapes created; what are the characteristics of these landscapes; what is the national and international importance of biodiversity in these landscapes; which factors have contributed to the biodiversity within these landscapes; which problems exist en what can be done to solve them?
Note that this module includes full day excursions, some of which inevitably start early because of the distance to the destination.

2. Small-scale patterns of biodiversity
This four-week module focuses on four questions:
1. How can we describe biodiversity in a particular habitat in space and time?
2. Which processes underlie the patterns in biodiversity?
3. How is biodiversity threatened and how can biodiversity best be protected?
4. What are the consequences of the changes in biodiversity for important ecosystem services?
It is important to note that this module is organized as a consultancy assignment, meaning that time management, meeting the clients demands, etc. are practiced and form an integral part of the learning goals.

3. Large-scale patterns of biodiversity
“How can biodiversity be mapped?” is a central question in this module. Using examples from zoology, botany and palaeontology (one week each) we follow the path from sample to pattern. The module provides the theoretical background on the processes behind these patterns, including environmental factors, sampling biases and taphonomical background, mostly based on Dutch examples, preparing participants in academic discussioons on biodiversity issues.

Learning goals

Course objectives:
At the end of the course students:

  • Understand and know different views on biodiversity and its values

  • Have learned about and acquainted with the major Dutch landscapes and their biotic and abiotic characteristics, historical back ground, maintaining processes and services, human influence and threats.

  • Have practiced various techniques and methodologies to map and assess biodiversity

  • Have learned about natural and human induced dynamics of biodiversity

  • Have acquired in depth taxonomic and biological knowledge on selected groups of organisms

Final qualifications:
After this course the students:

  • Have knowledge and understand different concepts, aspects and valuations of biodiversity.

  • Have knowledge and understanding of the effects of human activities on Dutch landscapes and biodiversity

  • Can design monitoring projects and make inventories and assessments of biodiversity

  • Can understand how to interpret biodiversity data to evaluate the status of ecosystems

  • Are able to apply biodiversity concepts and biodiversity information in the context of biological and societal issues


4 September 2017 - 10 November 2017. A detailed schedule will be provided on Blackboard before the start of the course.

Mode of instruction

Lectures, self-study, practicals, excursions
For some of the excursions in module 1, a bicycle is needed; other will make use of public transportation.

Assessment method

Exams, assignments, reports


Blackboard will be used for communication and exchange of documents

Reading list

For module 1, you need to read the following book: Do We Need Pandas? The Uncomfortable Truth About Biodiversity by Ken Thompson. Green books, UK, 2010


Via Usis and via Blackboard.

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