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Evolutionary Developments and Environmental Processes


Admission requirements

The course is open for all students that are enrolled in the Minor Biodiversity and Natural Environment and have followed the previous course Patterns in Biodiversity.

Contact information

Course coordinator: Dr. W. Tamis
Email: Dr. W.L.M. Tamis


The course Evolutionary Developments and Environmental Processes consists of three modules:

1. Evolutionary developments
This two-week module builds on the module large-scale patterns of biodiversity with emphasis on the development of biodiversity in the course of evolution. Particularly geographical, geological and evolutionary aspects are discussed.

2. Environmental processes
The focus in this four-week module is on chains of cause and effects in a (semi) natural environment. The course is structured around the four key environmental issues: (i) climate change, (ii) soil processes (iii) water processes and (iv) biotic processes. Within these themes the focus will be on the interacting processes and mechanisms behind environmental problems such as acidification, eutrophication, desiccation, pollution and ecotoxicology, exotic species, disturbance and fragmentation and their impact on biodiversity. A GIS-practical and – assignment is part of this module.

3. Literature Review
Biodiversity, it’s origin, importance, threats and what we can do about them. In a period of four weeks students will study literature and take interviews to prepare a written report on a chosen biodiversity issue. Students work in small teams. The minor will be concluded with a symposium.

Learning goals

Course objectives:
At the end of the course students:

  • Understand and know how the concepts of time, phylogeny and evolution can be used in relation to the concept of biodiversity

  • Have learned about the physical, chemical and ecological processes that determine biodiversity in ecosystems

  • Have learned about the role of human activities, such as interventions and emissions, that negatively affect biodiversity and can apply GIS in developing a plan for mitigating effects of fragmentation on ecosystems and focal species

  • Can analyze and describe in a scientific report the importance of a Dutch biodiversity issue and evaluate the possible conservation actions needed

Final qualifications:
After this course the students:

  • Have knowledge and understand about how evolutionary and environmental processes determine biodiversity both on a short (decades) and long term (millions of years) time frame and on local to global spatial scale

  • Are able to apply important biodiversity concepts and tools for solving scientific and societal problems

  • Are able to write a problem-oriented report in which different scenarios and actions are formulated and evaluated to solve a biodiversity issue


From 13 November 2017 – 2 February 2018. A detailed schedule will be provided on Blackboard before the start of the course.

Mode of instruction

Lectures, practicals, (GIS) and discussions

Assessment method

Exams, assignments, reports


Blackboard will be used for communication and exchange of documents

Reading list



Via uSis and via Blackboard.

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