701-0305-00L  Vertebrate Ecology

SemesterAutumn Semester 2023
LecturersK. Bollmann, U. Kormann
Periodicityyearly recurring course
Language of instructionGerman


701-0305-00 GÖkologie der Wirbeltiere2 hrs
Mon16:15-18:00CHN F 46 »
K. Bollmann, U. Kormann

Catalogue data

AbstractThe course covers the ecology of birds and mammals. Important concepts of nutrition, physiology, behavioural ecology, population biology, biogeography and community ecology will be linked to applications in conservation and management. A worldwide perspective will be complemented by a focus on the Central European fauna and its dynamics.
ObjectiveThe students are familiar with important topics in animal ecology of vertebrates, with an emphasis on birds and mammals. They are able to link theoretical concepts with ecological phenomena and view them against an evolutionary backdrop. They can thus appraise applied aspects of the conservation and the use of animal populations, such as the influence of body size on the energy demand and nutrition, relationships between resource availability on habitat use of birds and mammals as well as between predators and prey species, or of herbivores on vegetation, and the effects of hunting and landscape change on animal populations. Students understand the biogeographical characteristics of the Central European vertebrate fauna and its temporal and spatial dynamics.
ContentThe course deals with a number of main topics that include feeding and resource use, spatial behaviour and migrations, reproduction, population dynamics, competition and predation, parasites and diseases, biodiversity and distributions, and dynamics of the Central European fauna. There is an emphasis on linking theory with management issues in conservation and management of wildlife populations. During the first half of the course, examples will be drawn worldwide whereas during the second half, the course will focus more strongly on the European fauna, particularly of the Alpine region. Although the course is not designed to teach natural history of the native species, examples will cover much of the taxonomic breadth of the European fauna.
The course includes a field excursion.

Program (KB: Kurt Bollmann, UK: 2nd lecturer):
25.09.23 Birds and mammals: similarities & differences, endothermy & body isolation, moult in birds (KB)
02.10.23 Feeding I: Food, metabolism (KB)
09.10.23 Feeding II: Energetic needs, foraging, digestion (KB)
16.10.23 Distribution and habitat use, bird migration (UK)
23.10.23 Reproduction, litter and clutch size, breeding systems (UK)
30.10.23 Population dynamics (KB)
06.11.23 Predation, predator-prey-cycles (KB)
13.11.23 Competition (UK), Parasitism and diseases (self-study)
20.11.23 Biogeography of central European birds and mammals (KB)
27.11.23 Herbivores as landscape engineers: the Serengeti ecosystem (Guest lecturer)
04.12.23 Exploitation of wild birds and mammals (KB)
11.12.23 Threats and conservation biology of selected species (UK)
18.12.23 Mammals and climate change (case study from Switzerland) + pilot test (KB)
Lecture notesLecture notes and handouts will be available digitally.
LiteratureLiterature will be listed in the lecture notes. Some additional papers will be distributed.

Some books relevant to the course are (optional reading):
- Suter, W. 2017. Ökologie der Wirbeltiere. Vögel und Säugetiere. UTB/Haupt, Bern. This book is based on the course. It is in German.
- Fryxell, J.M., Sinclair, A.R.E., & Caughley, G. 2014. Wildlife Ecology, Conservation, and Management. 3rd ed. Wiley Blackwell, Chichester, UK.
Subject-specific CompetenciesConcepts and Theoriesassessed
Techniques and Technologiesfostered
Method-specific CompetenciesAnalytical Competenciesassessed
Media and Digital Technologiesfostered
Project Managementfostered
Social CompetenciesCommunicationassessed
Cooperation and Teamworkfostered
Customer Orientationfostered
Leadership and Responsibilityfostered
Self-presentation and Social Influence fostered
Sensitivity to Diversityfostered
Personal CompetenciesAdaptability and Flexibilityfostered
Creative Thinkingassessed
Critical Thinkingassessed
Integrity and Work Ethicsfostered
Self-awareness and Self-reflection fostered
Self-direction and Self-management fostered

Performance assessment

Performance assessment information (valid until the course unit is held again)
Performance assessment as a semester course
ECTS credits2 credits
ExaminersK. Bollmann, U. Kormann
Typesession examination
Language of examinationGerman
RepetitionThe performance assessment is only offered in the session after the course unit. Repetition only possible after re-enrolling.
Mode of examinationwritten 60 minutes
Written aidsKeine Hilfsmittel erlaubt (ausser Wörterbuch).
This information can be updated until the beginning of the semester; information on the examination timetable is binding.

Learning materials

No public learning materials available.
Only public learning materials are listed.


No information on groups available.


There are no additional restrictions for the registration.

Offered in

Environmental Sciences BachelorEcology and Conservation BiologyWInformation