AB-833 Freshwater Ecology of Arctic Lakes and Ponds (10 ECTS)

AB-333/833 students performing fieldwork at Kapp Linné

E-mail study@unis.no

25 February 2019
28 March 2019
Spring semester (February–March), annually.
10 ECTS with AB-333
Letter grade (A through F)
Curriculum; ca. 500 pages
10/20 students (AB-333/833 in total)
Bilingual dictionary between English and mother tongue
As soon as possible

UNIS contact person: Anna Vader

Course requirements:

Enrolment in a relevant PhD programme.

Academic content:

Limnology is the scientific study of lakes, rivers, and wetlands. It is an interdisciplinary science, encompassing the biology, chemistry, and physics of freshwater systems. This course is focusing on the biology of organisms, from microbes to fish, of Arctic lakes and ponds year-round i.e., during the short ice-free summer period and the much longer winter period with ice-cover. Emphasis is however on the winter conditions as knowledge of this season is rather limited. During the course we will focus on how the various abiotic factors are influencing the biological diversity and ecology within these systems, the trophic interactions, and nutrient and energy flows between the terrestrial and limnic systems.

The course will also emphasize the potential effects of global climate and environmental change, increased bird migrations as well as human activity on freshwater ecosystems in Arctic regions.

Learning outcomes:

Upon completing the course, the students will have:

  • Detailed knowledge into physical, chemical and biological characteristic of Arctic limnic ecosystems during the entire annual cycle and especially during winter.
  • Knowhow to perform in-depth analyses of how the environmental factors in the Arctic shape the biodiversity and ecological interactions in limnic ecosystems.
  • Advanced insight into the taxonomy, biogeography and ecology of the main autotrophic and heterotrophic organisms in ponds and lakes in Svalbard.
  • Expertise in designing experiments to measure growth, feeding and reproduction of plankton and benthos in freshwaters.

Upon completing the course, the students will have:

  • Thorough knowledge of common Arctic freshwater pelagic and benthic organisms as well as how to sample and analyse such communities.
  • Experiences in methodological possibilities and limitations to run independent field sampling during challenging winter conditions and laboratory experiments.
  • An analytic and critical approach to deal with scientific literature and other sources of information and how use these to structure and formulate hypotheses.
  • A detailed overview of the entire field that allows the student to teach at a graduate level and to perform other outreach activities.

General competences
Upon completing the course, the students will have:

  • A deep understanding of the Arctic freshwater ecosystems that matches the state-of-the-art as presented by experts.
  • Experience in how to combine field data with empirical knowledge into a scientific publications using statistical analysis and interpretation of biodiversity data.
  • Skills to carry out an independent research or development project in accordance with scientific norms.
  • Experience in outreach activities of scientific matters including to masters language and terminology of the academic field.

Learning activities:

The course extends over 4–5 weeks including compulsory safety training, and is run in combination with AB-333.

The course is based on a combination of lectures with guest teachers from several fields of limnology, various types of weekly commitments (paper presentations, exercises, discussions and essays), and laboratory work (experiments, microscopy and analyses) based on field samples. There are also scheduled hours for preparing the two course reports (which are part of the course assessment). The fieldwork includes several field trips to lakes and ponds around Longyearbyen and Colesdalen to demonstrate the different types of freshwater ecosystem and to collect samples for the students to work with in the laboratory.

Total lecture hours: 20 hours.
Total seminar hours: 8 hours.
Laboratory work: 5–6 days.
Excursions: Several 1-day excursions.

Compulsory learning activities:

Field excursions and laboratory work.
All compulsory learning activities must be approved in order to sit the exam.


Method Duration
Percentage of final grade
 Two written reports 75%
 Oral exam 25%

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: As soon as possible

To apply, send an e-mail to study@unis.no stating which UNIS course(s) you would like to apply for, and which study programme you are enrolled in at your home university for spring 2019. We will then ask for more documentation if needed.


AB-333/833 students performing fieldwork at Kapp Linné

AB-333/833 students performing fieldwork at Kapp Linné. Photo: Kirsten Christoffersen/UNIS.

AB-333/833 students filtrating plankton samples, March 2014. Photo: Kirsten Christoffersen/UNIS

AB-333/833 students filtrating plankton samples. Photo: Kirsten Christoffersen/UNIS

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