Universiteit Leiden

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About this minor

Why opt for this minor?

Biodiversity plays an increasingly important role in various aspects of society. This runs from  spatial planning such as greening urban environments to challenges regarding agriculture, nature conservation and -last but not least- the biodiversity decline itself, presenting a series of major challenges to mankind. These subjects will be covered extensively in the minor, and provide you with a solid basis for any further biodiversity projects you may want to embark on.

Minor Structure

Course Overview

Course EC
Orientation on Biodiversity 9
Environmental Processes 6
Scales of Biodiversity 9
Policy Analysis and Action Plan 6

For more information, please see the E-prospectus.

Course Description

This six weeks course will consist of a mixture of fieldwork (gathering data), lectures, assignments and excursions. The first week will start with prerecorded theoretical lectures about biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and services, which students can watch during the scheduled time slots, accompanied with discussion sessions (DS) in which they can ask their questions to the lecturers. The second and the third week the students will get acquainted with doing fieldwork, gathering biodiversity related data in Schiermonnikoog during the 2nd week and agricultural area close to Leiden in the 3rd week; the Zweilanderpolder, Lakerpolder and the Boterhuispolder. The essential parts of this field work are to get a general understanding of what biodiversity is, why it is important, how biodiversity surveys can guide nature management and what it entails to set up and conduct a biodiversity survey (biomonitoring) project. A group assignment will be introduced prior to the field weeks, where students will have to answer biodiversity related questions and write up a small research report based on their findings using the data collected in this agricultural area. Some data analysis will be involved here for which we have several R statistic workshops scheduled. Additionally, the other courses within the minor will use the data collected in the field in other assignments as well. For the purpose of the assignment as well as to improve your biodiversity research skills, part of the third week will focus on how to store, process and translate biodiversity data into usable results (i.e. using R) to answer biodiversity related questions. The following weeks (4 and 5) will be filled with learning about the importance of biodiversity for the characteristic Dutch landscapes. These weeks will revolve around questions such as: how were these landscapes created and what was the role of biodiversity in creating them? These weeks will be filled with theoretical prerecorded lectures that will be linked to excursions where students will be able to observe and ask questions about what they learned during the theoretical landscape lectures. Additionally there will be some time scheduled in these weeks to work on the group assignment. The end of week 6 will be mostly dedicated to prepare for the final exam. 

This four-week module has a very strong theoretical and a smaller practical part. The theoretical part focuses on chains of cause and effect in a (semi) natural environment. The course is structured around three key environmental realms (i) the abiotic environment, (ii) the biotic environment (iii) and human impacts on the biotic and abiotic environment. Within these themes the focus will be on the interacting ecological and anthropological processes and mechanisms underlying the core functions of these ecosystems, and how human interactions with these processes result in an collection of environmental problems. The course discusses a relative broad spectrum of environmental processes including climate change, eutrophication, pollution and ecotoxicology, exotic species, disturbance and fragmentation and their respective impacts on biodiversity. The practical part consists of a GIS- assignment, which will be carried out in small groups and is integrated with the data collection during the field weeks in the first module of the Minor.

This six-week course Scales in Biodiversity integrates the four dimensions of biodiversity in various scales of space and time. “How can biodiversity be mapped?” is a central question. Using examples from zoology, botany and palaeontology we follow the path from sample to pattern. The module provides the theoretical background on the processes behind these patterns, including environmental factors, sampling biases and taphonomical background, mostly based on Dutch examples, preparing participants in academic discussions on biodiversity issues. Subsequently, patterns of biodiversity will be placed in the context of the development of biodiversity in the course of evolution. Particularly geographical, geological and evolutionary aspects are discussed.

During this course you will utilize the acquired knowledge on biodiversity, it’s origin, importance, threats and what we can do about them from the previous Minor courses, to conduct a Policy Analysis and write a Policy Action report about a biodiversity issue. Additionally, students will create a short influential video report on the same topic. The first week will start with some introductory lectures about how to construct short videos. Subsequently, the students will break down into smaller groups which will focus on a specific biodiversity issue. Each group will have a specially appointed supervisor. The following weeks will be filled with studying literature, having group meetings with the supervisor and interview stakeholders in order to prepare a written and a video report. This course and the minor will be concluded with a video symposium.

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