AB-204 Arctic Population Ecology (15 ECTS)

Studying ecological interactions in an Arctic bird colony. Steep climb and much to learn. Photo: Øystein Varpe/UNIS

ID:
AB-204
CREDITS:
15 ECTS
START DATE:
July 27, 2020
END DATE:
December 4, 2020
COURSE PERIOD:
Autumn semester (July – December), annually.
LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION AND EXAMINATION:
English
CREDIT REDUCTION/OVERLAP:
None
GRADE:
Letter grade (A through F)
COURSE MATERIAL:
Gotelli, NJ (2008) A primer of Ecology. Fourth edition. Sinauer Associates, Inc., Massachusetts, USA, 291 pp. Additional scientific papers and book chapters will be provided at course start.
COURSE COSTS:
Fieldwork as part of a research cruise, NOK 400 (2 days x NOK 200 per overnight stay).
COURSE CAPACITY MIN/MAX:
10/20 students
EXAMINATION SUPPORT MATERIAL:
Bilingual dictionary between English and mother tongue
APPLICATION DEADLINE:
April 15, 2020

INSTRUCTORS:

Mads Forchhammer
Mads Forchhammer
Professor, Terrestrial zoology

Course requirements:

60 ECTS within general natural sciences, of which 30 ECTS within the field of biology. Knowledge of the statistical software package R will be advantageous.

The applicant must be enrolled in a programme at Bachelor level, or document that the courses are approved into the applicant’s current study programme.

The course should be combined with AB-201 Terrestrial Arctic Biology (15 ECTS), and the two courses are designed to complement each other. It is recommended to attend the summer course AB-206 Introduction to Svalbard’s Terrestrial Flora and Fauna (5 ECTS) prior to attending AB-201 / 204.

Academic content:

The course deals with how the Arctic environment and individual interactions shape ecological processes. A common ecological conceptual setting will be established as a baseline for our Arctic case stories. Effects of climatic variability will be studied within and between species as well as across trophic levels, including discussions of how individual phenology, life histories and populations are impacted. A spatial field study during the cruise across Svalbard as well as field excursions near Longyearbyen will give students hands-on knowledge of Arctic ecological interactions through field observations and associated statistical analyses.

Computer simulations and population ecological analyses using the statistical software program R will complement the field and literature based studies. Throughout the course, we aim at advancing the numerical and theoretical competence of the students.

The course AB-204 runs in parallel with AB-201 and the two courses are designed to complement each other, where AB-204 provides a deeper analytical insight into the spatio-temporal ecological processes through fieldwork, models, literature studies and analyses of population time series. The main field activity takes place through a ship-based expedition early in the term, co-organized with AB-201.

Learning outcomes:

Knowledge
Upon completing the course, the students can:

  • define, discuss and contrast key elements of the population ecology of Arctic organisms, including species interactions within populations and across throphic levels
  • list, classify, compare and evaluate how the combination of density-dependence and climatic factors impact populations and trophic interactions in the Arctic
  • use and contrast observations and models ot evaluate how biotic and abiotic processes influence the spatio-temporal dynamics of species phenology and life histories, population development and community structures.

Skills
Upon completing the course, the students can:

  • analyse data on population dynamics in time and space
  • use the software system R for development of simple models and data analyses in population ecology
  • navigate and search the research literature on Arctic ecology and population ecology
  • develop a literature study on a research question in Arctic ecology.

General competences
Upon completing the course, the students can:

  • perform fieldwork of selected Arctic species and their communities
  • critically evaluate, present and discuss scientific literature within Arctic population ecology
  • present own work through written reports and oral presentations
  • understand and be able to discuss the relevance of conceptual population ecological in field-based scientific studies in Arctic ecology.

Learning activities:

The course extends over a full semester. Initially, students attend two days of compulsory Arctic survival and safety training.

Lectures, seminars, group assignments, student presentations, report writing as well as fieldwork (cruise and excursions) constitute the learning activities of AB-204. Lectures will provide the students with basic, conceptual knowledge and comprehension of Arctic population ecology, whereas fieldwork will give students hands-on experience in collecting data across Arctic habitats for later analyses and comparisons with conceptual models during statistical and conceptual seminars. Group assignmenst, student presentations and report writing are designed to activate students through the application, analysis and synthesis of research papers within Arctic population ecology.

Total lecture hours: ca. 30 hours.
Total statistical and seminar hours: ca. 30 hours.
Computer lab work: ca. 25 hours.
Field cruise: 8 days field cruise together with AB-201, whereof 2 days are focused towards AB-204 activities
Field excursions: 2-4 days.

Compulsory learning activities:

Seminars, statistical exercises in R, group assignments, student presentations and field work (cruise and excursions).

All compulsory learning activities must be approved in order to sit the exam.

Assessment:

Method Duration
Percentage of final grade
Report from literature study
50%
Written exam 3 hours
50%

All assessments must be passed in order to pass the course.

Each assessment is graded, and subsequently combined into a single grade. Partial grades for each assessment will be available.

Application deadline: 15 April 2020

 

Studying ecological interactions in an Arctic bird colony. Steep climb and much to learn. Photo: Øystein Varpe/UNIS

Studying ecological interactions in an Arctic bird colony. Steep climb and much to learn. Photo: Øystein Varpe/UNIS

Near the animals. Helping Maarten Loonen with the annual goose catch in Ny-Ålesund. Photo: Øystein Varpe/UNIS

Near the animals. Helping Maarten Loonen with the annual goose catch in Ny-Ålesund. Photo: Øystein Varpe/UNIS

Autumn excursion to the Adventdalen estuary and tidal flats. Photo: Øystein Varpe/UNIS

Autumn excursion to the Adventdalen estuary and tidal flats. Photo: Øystein Varpe/UNIS

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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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