Arthur Gessler: Catalogue data in Autumn Semester 2021

Name Prof. Dr. Arthur Gessler
Zürcherstrasse 111
Bi HL D 22
8903 Birmensdorf ZH
Telephone044 739 28 18
DepartmentEnvironmental Systems Science
RelationshipAdjunct Professor

701-0301-00LApplied Systems Ecology Restricted registration - show details
Number of participants limited to 35.
Waiting list will be deleted October 3rd, 2021.
3 credits2VA. Gessler, C. Grossiord
AbstractThis course provides the ecological systems` knowledge needed to question applied solutions to current environmental issues. Our central aim is to balance participants' respect for complexity with a sense of possibility by providing examples from the vast solution space offered by ecological systems, such as e.g. green infrastructure to manage water.
ObjectiveAt the end of the course... know how to structure your inquiry and how to proceed the analysis when faced with a complex environmental issue. You can formulate the relevant questions, find answers (supported by discussions, input from the lecturers and the literature), and you are able to present your conclusions clearly and cautiously. understand the complexity of interactions and structures in ecosystems. You know how ecosystem processes, functions and services interact and feed back across multiple spatio-temporal scales (in general, plus in depth case examples). understand that biodiversity and the interaction between organisms are an integral part of ecosystems. You are aware that the link between biodiversity and process/function/service is rarely fully understood. You know how to honestly deal with this lack of understanding and can nevertheless find, critically analyse and communicate solutions. understand the importance of ecosystem services for society. have an overview of the methods of ecosystem research and have a deeper insight into some of them, e.g. ecosystem observation, manipulation and modelling. have reflected on ecology as a young discipline at the heart of significant applied questions.
ContentThis course provides the ecological systems' knowledge needed to question applied sustainability solutions. We will critically assess the complexity of current environmental issues, illustrating basic ecological concepts and principles. Our central aim is to balance participants' respect for complexity with a sense of possibility by providing examples from the vast solution space offered by ecological systems, such as e.g. green infrastructure to manage water.

The course is structured around four larger topical areas: (1) Integrated Water Management -- Green infrastructure (land management options) as an alternative to engineered solutions (e.g. large reservoirs) in flood and drought management; (2) Fire dynamics, the water cycle and biodiversity -- The surprising dynamics of species life cycles and populations in arid landscapes; (3) Rewilding, e.g. re-introducing apex predators (e.g. wolves), or large ungulates (e.g. bisons) in protected areas -- A nature conservation trend with counterintuitive effects; (4) Coupling of aquatic and terrestrial systems: carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus transfers of global importance on landscape scale.
Lecture notesCase descriptions, commented glossary and a list of literature and further resources per case.
LiteratureIt is not essential to borrow/buy the following books. We will continuously provide excerpts and other literature during the course.

Agren GI and Andersson FO (2012) Principles of Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology, Cambridge University Press.

Chapin et al. (2011), Principles of Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology, Springer.

Schulze et al. (2005) Plant Ecology; Springer.
Prerequisites / NoticeThe course combines elements of a classic lecture, group discussions and problem based learning. It is helpful, but not essential to be familiar with the "seven stages" method (see e.g. course 701-0352-00L "Analysis and Assessment of Environmental Sustainability" by Christian Pohl et al.).
751-5125-00LStable Isotope Ecology of Terrestrial Ecosystems Information Restricted registration - show details
Number of participants limited to 20.
2 credits2GR. A. Werner, N. Buchmann, A. Gessler, M. Lehmann
AbstractThis course provides an overview about the applicability of stable isotopes (carbon 13C, nitrogen 15N, oxygen 18O and hydrogen 2H) to process-oriented ecological research. Topics focus on stable isotopes as indicators for the origin of pools and fluxes, partitioning of composite fluxes as well as to trace and integrate processes. In addition, students carry out a small project during lab sessions.
ObjectiveStudents will be familiar with basic and advanced applications of stable isotopes in studies on plants, soils, water and trace gases, know the relevant approaches, concepts and recent results in stable isotope ecology, know how to combine classical and modern techniques to solve ecophysiological or ecological problems, learn to design, carry out and interpret a small IsoProject, practice to search and analyze literature as well as to give an oral presentation.
ContentThe analyses of stable isotopes often provide insights into ecophysiological and ecological processes that otherwise would not be available with classical methods only. Stable isotopes proved useful to determine origin of pools and fluxes in ecosystems, to partition composite fluxes and to integrate processes spatially and temporally.

This course will provide an introduction to the applicability of stable isotopes to ecological research questions. Topics will focus on carbon (13C), nitrogen (15N), oxygen (18O) and hydrogen (2H) at natural isotope abundance and tracer levels. Lectures will be supplemented by intensive laboratory sessions, short presentations by students and computer exercises.
Lecture notesHandouts will be available on the webpage of the course.
LiteratureWill be discussed in class.
Prerequisites / NoticeThis course is based on fundamental knowledge about plant ecophysiology, soil science, and ecology in general. Course will be taught in English.