701-0301-00L  Applied Systems Ecology

SemesterAutumn Semester 2023
LecturersA. Gessler
Periodicityyearly recurring course
Language of instructionGerman


701-0301-00 VAngewandte Systemökologie
Lehrsprache Englisch oder Deutsch, wird zu Beginn mit den Studierenden entschieden.
2 hrs
Wed14:15-16:00HG E 21 »
A. Gessler

Catalogue data

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...
...you 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.
...you 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).
...you 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.
...you understand the importance of ecosystem services for society.
...you 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.
...you 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.).

Performance assessment

Performance assessment information (valid until the course unit is held again)
Performance assessment as a semester course
ECTS credits3 credits
ExaminersA. Gessler
Typeungraded semester performance
Language of examinationGerman
RepetitionRepetition only possible after re-enrolling for the course unit.
Additional information on mode of examinationDie Prüfungssprache ist Englisch oder Deutsch, nach Wunsch des zu Prüfenden.
The exam will be held in English or German, depending on the examinee's preference.

Learning materials

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


No information on groups available.


Places35 at the most
Waiting listuntil 01.10.2023

Offered in

Biology MasterElective Compulsory Master CoursesWInformation
Environmental Sciences BachelorEnvironmental BiologyWInformation