701-0323-00L Plant Ecology
|Spring Semester 2021
|yearly recurring course
|Language of instruction
|This class focuses on ecological processes involved with plant life, mechanisms of plant adaptation, plant-animal and plant-soil interactions, plant strategies and implications for the structure and function of plant communities. The discussion of original research examples familiarises students with research questions and methods, and how to evaluate results and interpretations.
|After attending this course, you will be able to:
1. Use your understanding of plant ecological theory to interpret primary data (tables, graphs) from ecological studies.
2. Critically evaluate evidence and conclusions presented in ecological studies based on your understanding of plant ecological processes.
3. Apply your knowledge of plant ecology to make general predictions about major responses of plant communities to biotic and environmental perturbations.
4. Evaluate the main methodological approaches used to study ecological processes in plants, and decide when they should be applied to address a research question.
|Plant communities can be spectacularly diverse, which has long puzzled ecologists since all plants compete for the same few limiting resources. Plants also represent the matrix of ecological communities, and the structure and dynamics of plant populations drives the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems. This course provides insight into these broad themes by providing an introduction to the essential ecological processes involved with plant life. We use original research examples to discuss how ecological questions are studied and how results are interpreted. Specific topics include:
- Plant functional traits (e.g. leaf economics, phenology), and how they determine interactions between plants and their physical environment.
- Plant life-history, and the different ecological strategies plants have developed to grow, survive and reproduce.
- Intra- and interspecific competition as regulators of plant population dynamics and multispecies coexistence.
- Interactions between plants and their friends (e.g. symbiotic fungi, pollinators) and enemies (e.g. herbivores, pathogens) above- and below-ground.
- Plant functional types and rules in the assembly of plant communities.
|Handouts and further reading will be available electronically through the course Moodle at the beginning of the semester.
|Prerequisites / Notice
- General knowledge of plant biology
- Basic knowledge of plant sytematics
- General ecological concepts