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Ecosystem Services


Note: The course Ecosystem Services alternates with the course Ecotoxicology. The next Ecotoxicology course will be given in 2021-2022.

Admission requirements

This course is for MSc students in Biology.


Coordinator: Dr. N.A. Soudzilovskaia



Ecosystem services is a framework that allows analysis, quantification and optimization of the interface between biodiversity/ecosystem functioning and societal demands. This course will provide students with a theoretical knowledge on the concept of ecosystem services, and information on practical applications of this concept.

The first part of the course will focus on basic principles of ecosystem services and their classification. Next, we will discuss the relations between ecosystem functioning and ecosystem services. This part will include key concepts needed to understand and quantify ecosystem functioning, the role of organisms in general and biodiversity in particular therein as well as the impacts of trade-offs and feedbacks on ecosystem processes. The third part of the course will focus on the societal dimension of ecosystem services. Methods, indicators and instruments available to assess the interactions of nature and human society are discussed. We will assess the different ways to calculate the benefits of provided ecosystem services, methods for mapping of ecosystem services, and tools to manage and optimize ecosystem services as dependent on local societal demands.

As part of the course, students will conduct a group research project, within which the ecosystem services of a particular case study will be analysed. Each group will work with a different case study.

Learning goals

Learning Objectives:
In this course students will learn about the relationships between ecosystem functioning, ecosystem services and societal demands.

Final Qualifications:
Upon completion of the course, students are expected to be able to define, discuss and apply in practice important principles, characteristics and instruments related to the provision of ecosystem services.


From 04-01-2021 till 29-01-2021
The detailed schedule will be published on Brightspace.

Mode of instruction

The main mode of instruction will centre around seminar-style/dynamic lectures and include short videos and examples for real life situations that will be discussed during the lectures. In addition, group debates will be organised, aiming at a full engagement of all students.
In addition, students are required to complete a group assignment. To facilitate completion of these assignments, there will be some time set aside before or after the lectures to discuss progress on the group assignment. The remainder of the work is conducted outside class hours and will constitute about half of the time investment for the course.
Attendance is compulsory for students.

Assessment method

Exam, written assignment (group work) and poster presentation (group work).

Inspection and feedback on the examination

Date: To be announced


Handouts, instructions, reading material (references) and all general course information will be made available via the Brightspace.

Reading list

Due to the novelty of the concept of ecosystem services there is currently no appropriate study book available. Instead 2-3 relevant scientific manuscripts will be provided for each lecture.


Via Usis

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