Aquatic Ecology | Robustness of aquatic ecosystems in the face of global change

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Aquatic Ecology

Robustness of aquatic ecosystems in the face of global change

To be announced


aquatic-ecologyAquatic ecosystems play a crucial role in human health and well-being as a source of drinking water and food (irrigation, fisheries, and aquaculture), recreation, and tourism. Aquatic systems also provide diverse habitats, support high levels of biodiversity and vital ecosystems services and play a vital role in the global carbon cycle and in various nutrient cycles. Moreover, lakes integrate and archive information from the entire catchment and thus act as sentinels and bear the legacy of past environmental change. Aquatic ecosystems, however, are under severe anthropogenic pressure such as eutrophication, inorganic pollution, acidification, invasive species, extraction of upstream water, and climate change. Unprecedented rates of global change add a sense of urgency to study the impacts of anthropogenic pressures, and to develop ways to restore and improve the robustness of aquatic ecosystems against these pressures.

In this 5-day course we will provide a multifaceted overview of the science on aquatic ecosystems in the Anthropocene and the means by which its robustness can be restored or even improved. The course will consist of a combination of lectures provided by a team of international expert scientists, followed by plenary discussions. In addition, the participants will be working in small teams on specific group work projects. Aside from updating and deepening your scientific knowledge in the field of aquatic ecology, this course also offers an excellent opportunity to broaden your network and to interact with world-class scientists in this field!


This course will be structured around three main themes: Global perspectives of aquatic ecosystems, novel and restored ecosystems, and emerging pollutants. A detailed draft programme can be found below. Note that this programme and the lecture titles are still tentative, but this should give some impression about the course topics. The group work will be centred around the general theme "Robustness of aquatic ecosystems in the face of global change". Participants will from project teams and will be invited to choose a predefined topic of attention within this general theme, or to propose a topic themselves for the group work assignment. During the course, the groups will collect the relevant information for their group work projects from the lectures, from individual meetings with the lecturers during the week, from the excursion, and from the literature. Based on this, the groups can work out a product of their choice (e.g., an opinion paper, a grant proposal, a journal manuscript, etc.), which will be presented on Friday morning. 

Day 1
Afternoon Arrival at course venue around 4-5 PM
Evening 1. Welcome drinks and dinner
  2. Introductory lecture (course aims and themes, group work setup)
Day 2
Morning Lecture session 1: Global perspectives of aquatic ecosystems
  1. Short introductions by Miquel LurlingLisette de Senerpont Domis, and Liesbeth Bakker about their fields of expertise
  2. Carolien Kroeze – Water Systems and Global Change; A Global Modeling Perspective
In this lecture, I will focus on the relations between human activities, water pollution and climate change. The availability of clean water is essential for nature as well as for people. Currently, already in many world regions water security is at risk. In the future, this may be worse. Not only because of population growth and an increasing demand for water, but also because of surface water pollution. Surface water pollution is often caused by nutrients, pathogens, plastics and chemicals such as antibiotics, heavy metals and pesticides. These pollutants have different environmental effects. Excess nutrients, for instance, may result in harmful algal blooms and hypoxia both in rivers and in coastal seas. Pathogens in rivers pose a threat to human health. Chemical pollution can have toxic effects. Surface waters often suffer from the combined impact of multiple pollutants. I will present examples of global integrated models that simulate water systems, as affected by human activities on the land and climate change. I will focus in particular on future trends, and the relations between food production and water pollution under a changing climate.
Afternoon Introduction to group work projects and start of group work assignment
Evening 1. Short introduction by Harm van der Geest about his field of expertise
  2. Pitch presentations about group work projects
Day 3
Morning Lecture session 2: Aquatic ecology and restored ecosystems
  1. Meryem Beklioglu – Eutrophication and Restoration of Lake Ecosystems
  2. Bryan Spears – Effective management of lakes: prevention is better than cure
Many lakes across the world have been adversely affected by human induced pressures. This has resulted in unprecedented loss of benefits to society. In recognition of this, efforts to restore impacted lakes have increased in recent years. However, restoration is still a challenging and expensive process, and rates of success can be variable and unpredictable. We will explore the need for preventative measures, in contrast to restorative measures, to maintain the future delivery of benefits to society from lakes that are currently in good condition. Using case studies, we will discuss, using data from lake experiments and long-term monitoring data, some failures and successes in restoration ecology and outline the need to mitigate future change in a world where freshwater ecosystems will be increasingly under attack from multiple and interacting stressors. We will draw on case studies from the UK, China and New Zealand to demonstrate knowledge gaps in preventative management approaches that are already underway. These initiatives differ from restoration projects, which aim to achieve a historical reference state, by aiming to protect or enhance long-term societal benefits by building resilient ecosystems and maintaining ecological integrity. But, does the approach carry a price that society will be willing to pay…?
Afternoon Group work activity
Evening Leisure Lecture by Prof Eric Higgs – Novel and Designed ecosystems
Day 4
Morning + Afternoon Excursion: Novel and Restored ecosystems
  1. Excursion to Rijkswaterstaat in Lelystad - Introduction by Mennobart van Eerden
  2. Excursion to the Marker Wadden island in the middle of the Ijsselmeer.
Evening Guest lecture by Prof Marten Scheffer – Ecology of Shallow Lakes
Day 5
Morning Lecture session 3: Aquatic ecology and Emerging Pollutants
  1. Michiel Kraak – Emerging Pollutants; Bridging ecotoxicology and environmental chemistry
  2. Jerker Fick – Ecological effects of pharmaceuticals in aquatic systems
Afternoon Update on group work projects and continuation of group work activity
Evening Plenary debate sessions / preparing final group work presentations
Day 6
Morning Final presentations of the group work projects
Afternoon Travel back home



General information
Target Group The course is aimed at PhD candidates and other academics
Group Size Min. 20 / Max. 40 participants
Course duration 5 days
Language of instruction English
Frequency of recurrence Once every three years
Number of credits 2 ECTS
Lecturers Prof. Carolien Kroeze, Water Systems and Global Change, Wageningen University, NL
Dr Bryan Spears, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Natural Environment Research Council, UK
Prof. Dr Meryem Beklioğlu, Department of Biology, Middle East Technical University, Turkey
Prof. Eric Higgs, Department of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria, Canada
Dr Michiel Kraak, Department of Freshwater and Marine Ecology, University of Amsterdam, NL
Dr Jerker Fick, Department of Chemistry, Umeå University, Sweden
Prof. Marten Scheffer, Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management, Wageningen University, NL 
Dr Miquel Lurling, Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management, Wageningen University, NL
Dr Lisette de Senerpont Domis, Department of Aquatic Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology, NL
Dr Liesbeth Bakker, Department of Aquatic Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology, NL
Dr Harm van der Geest, Department of Freshwater and Marine Ecology, University of Amsterdam, NL
Prior knowledge No specific prior knowledge required
Location Hotel de Bosrand, Ede


More information

Dr. Lennart Suselbeek (PE&RC)
Phone: +31 (0) 317 485426