AB-322 Flux of Matter and Energy from Sea to Land (10 ECTS)

Little auks (Alle alle) photographed during AB-322 fieldwork. Photo: Geir Wing Gabrielsen/UNIS

How to apply

ID:
AB-322
CREDITS:
10 ECTS
START DATE:
25 June 2018
END DATE:
27 July 2018
COURSE PERIOD:
Summer/Autumn semester (June–July), every second year. Next course: 2018
LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION AND EXAMINATION:
English
CREDIT REDUCTION/OVERLAP:
None
GRADE:
Letter grade (A through F)
COURSE MATERIAL:
Primary scientific literature.
COURSE COSTS:
None
COURSE CAPACITY MIN/MAX:
9/18 students
EXAMINATION SUPPORT MATERIAL:
Bilingual dictionary between English and mother tongue
APPLICATION DEADLINE:
15 February 2018

INSTRUCTORS:

Geir Wing Gabrielsen
Geir Wing Gabrielsen
Adjunct Professor, Ecotoxicology

UNIS contact person: Øystein Varpe

Course requirements:

Enrolment in a relevant master programme in biology. Basic knowledge in marine biology and chemistry.

Academic content:

The students will gain insight into seabird ecology and fluxes of matter, nutrients, pollutants and energy from marine to terrestrial ecosystems. The course will focus on the connections across the terrestrial-marine boundary, and the importance of the marine environment and productivity for some Arctic terrestrial ecosystems.

The main topic of interest will be Arctic seabirds that nest in large, dense colonies, their dependence on the hydrological regime and biological productivity in the waters around Svalbard. The impact of seabirds on the terrestrial ecosystem will be studied. Bird guano has an important fertilizing effect on the vegetation in the vicinity of colonies. The lush green area below seabird colonies is an eye-catching feature of an otherwise impoverished Arctic landscape. These green oases are important grazing areas for herbivorous such as the Svalbard reindeer, Svalbard ptarmigan and geese. These areas are also important hunting areas for carnivores such as the Arctic fox.

Students will also focus on the interdependence of terrestrial and marine environments for important groups of Arctic animals. The connection between land and sea will be described and quantified on the basis of our current understanding of the topic. In order to get a first-hand experience, the students will have one week of intensive fieldwork, analysis of samples in the laboratory and putting these data into a model to calculate the fluxes from sea to land.

Learning outcomes:

Knowledge
Upon completing the course, the students will:

  • Have an understanding of all aspects of pollutants, matter, nutrient and energy fluxes from sea to land in the Arctic.
  • Be able to describe research-based methods to study fluxes in Arctic ecosystems.

Skills
Upon completing the course, the students will:

  • Be able to separate different seabird species, have knowledge on their ecology and their role in the Arctic ecosystem.
  • Be able to conduct research-based fieldwork within marine and terrestrial ecology, using relevant sampling techniques and methods to analyse collected data.

General competences
Upon completing the course, the students will:

  • Have practical experience from doing field sampling, putting field data into scientific contexts, conducting analyses of data and making interpretations of data.

Learning activities:

The course extends over 4–5 weeks including compulsory safety training.

Learning will be achieved via a combination of lectures, intensive field-, lab and group work.

One week theoretical introduction and preparation of field activities will be followed by one week of field activities (work in the seabird colony and marine and terrestrial excursions). Sampling will be conducted both in the seabird colony (Bjørndalen) and on the boat (Adventfjorden). The last part of the course will include lectures, laboratory analyses of samples, and work on a course report. Working in groups, the students will produce a scientific course report on the flux of matter and energy from the sea to the land, based on the course theory, field- and lab work. An oral presentation of the report sums up the course.

Total lecture hours:  30 hours.
Laboratory work:  25 hours.
Excursions/fieldwork:  7 days.

Compulsory learning activities:

Field excursions, laboratory work, course report and oral presentation of the report.
All compulsory learning activities must be approved in order to sit the exam.

Assessment:

Method Duration
Percentage of final grade
 Written report  50%
 Written exam  4 hours  50%

All assessments must be passed in order to pass the course.
Only the final grade will be reported, based on an average of the grades from the examination parts.

Application deadline: 15 February 2018

Students walking the mountainside in Bjørndalen.

AB-322 students on excursion in Bjørndalen. Photo: Silje Kristiansen.

Taking food samples from a Little Auk

AB-322 students taking food samples from a Little auk. The bird is released afterwards. Photo: Silje Kristiansen.

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CONTACT INFO

The University Centre in Svalbard
Telephone: +47 79 02 33 00
Fax: +47 79 02 33 01
E-mail: post@unis.no / webmaster@unis.no
Address: P.O. Box 156 N-9171 Longyearbyen
Org. no. 985 204 454

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