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

How to apply

ID:
AB-204
CREDITS:
15 ECTS
START DATE:
30 July 2018
END DATE:
6 December 2018
COURSE PERIOD:
Autumn semester (August–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. (Students must buy this book before coming to Svalbard). Additional scientific papers and book chapters will be available 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:
15 April 2018

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.

Academic content:

The course deals with how the Arctic environment shapes ecological processes and evolutionary adaptations. Behavioural ecology, life history adaptations, and population dynamics are key parts of the course. Also, attention is given to how seasonality influences organisms, making phenology a recurrent theme. A theoretical fundament will be established as a baseline for our Arctic case stories. Effects of climatic variability will be studied, including discussions of how individual phenology, life histories and populations are impacted. Field studies and excursions will give students hands-on knowledge of Arctic ecological interactions through the acquisitions of field methods and ongoing research projects. Computer labs (including simulations and statistical analyses using the program R) will complement the field and literature based studies. Throughout we aim at advancing the numerical and theoretical competence of the students.

The course runs in parallel with AB-201 and the two courses are designed to complement each other. The course AB-201 has substantial data and field based research projects and the focus is towards species and habitat knowledge. In contrast, AB-204 provides a deeper insight into the processes that we observe in the Arctic, that is the theoretical background of Arctic ecology that embraces the understanding of models, literature studies and analyses of existing databases. Students are expected to study both courses, and the main field activity in AB-204 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:

  • Use theory and data to study and explain the population ecology of Arctic organisms.
  • Understand the evolution of species life histories and community ecology in the Arctic.
  • Embrace the importance of how the combination of density-dependent and density-independent factors set the scene for how populations of Arctic species develop over time and space.

Skills
Upon completing the course, the students can:

  • Develop a literature study on a research question in Arctic ecology.
  • Analyse data on population dynamics, behaviour, and life history traits.
  • Use the software system R for development of simple models and data analyses.
  • Navigate and search the research literature on Arctic ecology and population ecology.

General competences
Upon completing the course, the students can:

  • Perform fieldwork in selected Arctic ecosystems and habitats.
  • Critically evaluate, present and discuss scientific literature within the field.
  • Present own work through written and oral reports.
  • Demonstrate the relevance of ecological theory for 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.

During the semester the students will:

  • Attend lectures, seminars and excursions to learn from the skilled staff of the department as well as invited experts and guest lecturers. Seminars and excursions will be partly student driven to promote active engagement and learning.
  • Develop individual reports based on literature studies of student-chosen research questions within Arctic ecology and population biology. The research question can be on the seasonal ecology of a species or taxa, or on a particular ecological process or phenomenon. Independence of thought and critical reading will be practiced.
  • Attend computer labs on selected topics in Arctic ecology and population biology. This will give hands-on experience with quantitative ecology and problem solving based on recent or ongoing research projects. The students will summarize their learning outcomes from the computer labs in individual reports.

Combined, these activities will give hands-on experience with quantitative Arctic ecology and problem solving based on recent or ongoing research projects. The students will summarize their learning outcomes from the computer labs in individual reports.

Total lecture hours: ca. 40 hours.
Total theoretical exercises and seminar hours: ca. 30 hours.
Computer lab work: ca. 25 hours.
Field excursions: 4–6 days.

Compulsory learning activities:

Seminars, field excursions and computer labs. The computer lab reports must be passed, and will form the basis for some of the questions during the exam.

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

Assessment:

Method Duration
Percentage of final grade
Report from literature study
40%
Written exam 4 hours
60%

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 2018

 

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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