Martin Claude Fischer: Catalogue data in Spring Semester 2019

Name Dr. Martin Claude Fischer
Institut für Integrative Biologie
ETH Zürich, CHN G 21.3
Universitätstrasse 16
8092 Zürich
Telephone+41 44 633 93 19
DepartmentEnvironmental Systems Science

701-0340-00LPractical Course in Environmental Biology7 credits14PC. Vorburger, M. C. Fischer, S. P. Hart, J. Jokela
AbstractThis course aims at developing research skills in environmental biology. Students carry out small research projects in plant ecology, ecological genetics, aquatic ecology and population biology. These projects include field surveys as well as garden and laboratory experiments. Students analyse their data statistically and present the results both orally and in written reports.
ObjectiveStudents learn how to carry out ecological research projects. They obtain a thorough understanding of selected research topics, and they gain practical experience in handling a wide range of organisms in various types of ecosystems.
After the course, successful participants can:
- formulate precise research questions and testable hypotheses
- design and set up experiments
- measure appropriate variables (for the studied organisms and hypotheses)
- analyse data statistically and draw conclusions from statistical outputs
- present their results according to scientific standards in the research field
ContentThe semester starts with an introduction to research questions and hypotheses, experimental design and data analysis.

During the semester, students carry out several small research projects in aquatic ecology, plant ecology and ecological genetics. Projects address specific research questions related to general topics such as:
- resource acquisition
- competition, grazing, predation, parasitism
- population structure (demography, spatial patterns)
- community composition, species diversity
- species differentiation and hybridisation

During the field course (one full week after the semester), students carry out their individual project in population biology. They choose the topic, organism and system they want to study and develop their own research questions. They conduct the entire research project by themselves and present their results orally and in a report.
Prerequisites / NoticeCompulsory attendance. Absences have to be compensated.
Semester tasks: Oral and/or written presentations after different parts of the course.
701-1450-00LConservation Genetics3 credits4GR. Holderegger, M. C. Fischer, F. Gugerli
AbstractThe course deals with knowledge in conservation genetics and its practical applications. It introduces the genetic theories of conservation genetics, such as inbreeding depression in small populations or fragmentation. The course also shows how genetic methods are used in conservation Management, and it critically discusses the benefits and limits of conservation genetics.
ObjectiveGenetic and evolutionary argumentation is an important feature of conservation biology. The course equips students with knowledge on conservation genetics and its applications in conservation management. The course introduces the main theories of conservation genetics and shows how genetic methods are used in conservation Management, and it critically discusses the benefits and limits of conservation genetics. Practical examples from animals and plants are presented.
ContentThere are 4 hours of lectures, presentations and group works per week. Students also have to spend about 3 hours per week on preparatory work for the following week. Every week, one subject will be presented by one of three lecturers.

Overview of themes:
Barcoding, eDNA and genetic monitoring; effects of small population size: genetic drift and inbreeding; neutral and adaptive genetic diversity; hybridization; gene flow, fragmentation and connectivity.

Specific topics:
(1) Species and individual identification: barcoding; eDNA; population size estimation; habitat use and genetic monitoring.
(2) Small population size; bottlenecks; genetic drift; inbreeding and inbreeding depression; effective population size.
(3) Adaptive genetic diversity; neutral and adaptive genetic variation; importance of adaptive genetic diversity; methods to measure adaptive genetic variation.
(4) Hybridization; gene introgression; gene flow across species boundaries.
(5) Half day excursion: practical example of conservation genetics on fragmentation.
(6) Discussion and evaluation of excursion; historical and contemporary gene flow and dispersal; fragmentation and connectivity.
(7) Written examination.
Lecture notesNo script; handouts and material for downloading will be provided.
LiteratureThere is no textbook for this course, but the following books are (partly) recommended:
Allendorf F.W., Luikart G.; Aitken S.N. 2013. Conservation and the Genetics of Populations, 2nd edition. Wiley, Oxford.
Frankham R., Ballou J.D., Briscoe D.A. 2010. Introduction to Conservation Genetics, 2nd edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Targeted to practitioners in conservation management is the following book in German:
Holderegger R., Segelbacher G. (eds.). 2016. Naturschutzgenetik. Ein Handbuch für die Praxis. Haupt, Bern.
Prerequisites / NoticeRequirements:
Students must have a good background in genetics as well as in ecology and evolution. The courses "Population and Quantitative Genetics" or "Evolutionary Genetics" should have been attended.

A final written examination on the content of the course and an excursion are integral parts of the course.

Teaching forms:
The course needs the active participation of students. It consists of lectures, group works, presentations, discussions, readings and a half-day excursion.