701-0328-00L  Advanced Ecological Processes

SemesterAutumn Semester 2023
LecturersJ. Hille Ris Lambers
Periodicityyearly recurring course
Language of instructionEnglish


701-0328-00 VAdvanced Ecological Processes2 hrs
Mon12:15-14:00CHN F 42 »
J. Hille Ris Lambers

Catalogue data

AbstractThis course presents a broad overview of the key processes structuring ecological populations and communities.
In this course, students will develop an integrated knowledge of ecological processes that enables them to interpret ecological patterns, formulate hypotheses about how those patterns are generated, and predict how population and community dynamics will respond to natural and anthropogenic disturbances. Specifically, our goals are to:

- Introduce students to the major ecological processes that together shape the composition and abundance of species within ecological communities.
- Provide insight to students on the ecological impacts of anthropogenic change, and how an understanding of ecological processes can help us predict these ecological impacts and design conservation / restoration actions to mitigate their negative impacts.
- Teach students to critically summarize and analyze primary ecological literature, understanding how ecological studies contribute to our knowledge, how to critically evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, and practice designing follow up studies.
- Allow students to assess different approaches to studying population and ecological community dynamics (e.g. mathematical models, field observations, experimental manipulations).

The learning objectives follow from the course goals. After attending this course, students should be able to:

- Describe key processes affecting the size of populations and abundance of species within ecological communities.
- Critically evaluate evidence and conclusions presented in primary ecological literature based on your understanding of these ecological processes.
- Design (hypothetical) studies and experiments to test the role of different processes in structuring ecological communities.
- Apply knowledge of ecological processes to make predictions about the major responses of ecological communities to anthropogenic perturbations.
ContentWe will examine how population and community structure arises from a combination of deterministic processes like biotic interactions, spatial processes like dispersal, and neutral and stochastic processes. We will explore how these processes relate to central problems in ecology, both basic and applied, including the maintenance of biological diversity, the controls over species invasions, and ecological responses to environmental change (e.g. climate change).

The course is taught in a flipped format. Generally (with the exception of a few weeks), there will be online materials for students to watch or read during the first hour of class (lecture videos, readings), and the class will meet in person for the second half of class where they will participate in activities designed to help students learn the content. This could include paper discussions, worksheets, and online modules. Students will also give an oral presentation (as a group) on a primary literature article.
Lecture notesAll course materials (videos, lecture notes, primary literature) will be provided on the course moodle.
Subject-specific CompetenciesConcepts and Theoriesassessed
Method-specific CompetenciesAnalytical Competenciesassessed
Social CompetenciesCommunicationassessed
Cooperation and Teamworkfostered
Personal CompetenciesCreative Thinkingfostered
Critical Thinkingassessed
Integrity and Work Ethicsfostered

Performance assessment

Performance assessment information (valid until the course unit is held again)
Performance assessment as a semester course
ECTS credits4 credits
ExaminersJ. Hille Ris Lambers
Typeend-of-semester examination
Language of examinationEnglish
RepetitionA repetition date will be offered in the first two weeks of the semester immediately consecutive.
Mode of examinationwritten 60 minutes
Additional information on mode of examinationThe final grade comes from:
- A written final examination (60 minutes) that makes up 80% of the grade.
- A graded compulsory continuous performance assessment that makes up 20% of the grade, and must be passed on its own. This continuous performance assessment consists of an oral presentation to the rest of the class based on an assigned primary literature article or concept.
Written aidsonly calculator

Learning materials

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


No information on groups available.


PriorityRegistration for the course unit is only possible for the primary target group
Primary target groupBiology MSc (562000)
UZH MNF Biology (573100)
Teaching Diploma in Biology (579000)
UZH MNF Geography/Earth System Sciences (674200)
Environmental Sciences MSc (736000)

Offered in

Biology MasterElective Compulsory Master CoursesWInformation
Environmental Sciences MasterA. FundamentalsWInformation