This course focuses on the interactions between ecology, biogeochemistry and management of agro- and forest ecosystems, thus, coupled human-environmental systems. Students learn how human impacts on ecosystems via management or global change are mainly driven by effects on biogeochemical cycles and thus ecosystem functioning, but also about feedback mechanisms of terrestrial ecosystems.
Students will know and understand the complex and interacting processes of ecology, biogeochemistry and management of agro- and forest ecosystems, be able to analyze and evaluate the various impacts of different management practices under different environmental conditions, search literature, write and evaluate scientific reports, and be able to coordinate and work successfully in small (interdisciplinary) teams.
Agroecosystems and forest ecosystems play a major role in all landscapes, either for production purposes, ecological areas or for recreation. The human impact of any management on the environment is mainly driven by effects on biogeochemical cycles. Effects of global change impacts will also act via biogeochemistry at the soil-biosphere-atmosphere-interface. Thus, ecosystem functioning, i.e., the interactions between ecology, biogeochemistry and management of terrestrial systems, is the science topic for this course.
Students will gain profound knowledge about nutrient cycles and population dynamics in managed and unmanaged grassland, cropland and forest ecosystems in the field and in the lab. Responses of agro- and forest ecosystems to the environment, e.g., to climate, anthropogenic deposition, major disturbances, soil nutrients or competition of plants (including invasives) and microorganisms, but also feedback mechanisms of ecosystems on (micro)climate, soils or vegetation patterns will be studied. Different management practices will be investigated and assessed in terms of production and quality of yield (ecosystem goods and services), but also in regard to environmental regulations (including subsidies) and their effect on the environment, e.g., greenhouse gas budgets. Thus, students will learn about the complex interactions of a coupled human-environmental system.
Handouts will be available on the webpage of the course.
Will be discussed in class.
Prerequisites / Notice
Prerequisites: Attendance of introductory courses in plant ecophysiology, ecology, and grassland or forest sciences. Course will be taught in English.