Life on Earth relies on the functional capability of ecosystems. However, human decreased the species richness (biodiversity), degraded the habitats and changed the climate of Earth. All these threaten the stability of plant and animal communities. Therefore, it is crucial to understand these threats and provide solutions as how to sustainably manage ecosystems. The aim of the course is to witness, study and gain an interdisciplinary knowledge about biodiversity loss, habitat degradation and the changes of biogeochemical cycle. Biodiversity, habitat, biogeochemical cycles and climate change are strongly linked. Biodiversity provides food and habitat and provides a structure for ecosystem functions such as energy, water or bio- geochemical cycle. One of the most important cycles is the cycle of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is crucial for plant growth and to stabilize climate, yet increasing concentration due to anthropogenic emission causes climate change. During the course we will gain not only theoretical but also practical and empirical knowledge about biodiversity, ecosystems and about their functions and threats. Through a field survey in a forest we will asses biodiversity, habitat structure and the basic cycle of carbon. The survey will be followed by independent analysis and report writing. Based on collected data and group discussion possible solutions should be outlined in local and global context as how to sustainably manage ecosystems. Participants will be able to think interdisciplinary, execute simple ecological calculations and write scientific reports based on their findings. Skills to develop methods as how to asses biodiversity, study function of ecosystems and provide possible solutions for ecological problems should be gained. Course will not only be useful for future academic plant ecological, environmental courses but also it will provide insight how to became an environmental engineer, natural scientist or ecological-economist.
Module Leader:Péter Koncz