This course consists of four learning units.
1. Biological diversity: scientific concepts and theory
This learning unit deals with concepts and theory on biological diversity. The focus will be on key questions, such as: What is a species, what is biodiversity? How to measure and to value biodiversity at various spatial and temporal scales? What are key factors determining biological diversity? In addition, attention will be paid to extinction of species (the concept of critical population size; irreplaceable species, global biodiversity and indicators of recent decline) and conservation of biodiversity (legal protection of biodiversity and restoration measures for biodiversity).
2. Species diversity and ecosystem functioning
The second learning unit deals with the role of biodiversity in ecosystem functioning. This issue will be elaborated for various types of wetlands such as riverine ecosystems and mangroves-seagrass-coral reef systems.
3. Biodiversity assessment and valuation
This learning unit focuses on criteria for protected areas with respect to species conservation, ecological status assessments in water- and nature management, species sensitivity analyses and extinction risks of species. Moreover, biodiversity assessment and valuation will be elaborated for a case study on biodiversity in riverine ecosystems (e.g., the application of the BIO-SAFE model).
4. Current themes in biodiversity research
The course will be concluded with reviews of current themes in biodiversity research, such as biodiversity in relation to ecosystem status assessment, ecosystem services, ecosystem engineers, novel ecosystems, economical values, agricultural practice, aquaculture/fisheries, human encroachment, species sensitivity distributions, species extinction and biological invasions.