Metropole Ecology


Course Objective

By the time the course is completed, the student should be able to:
1. Describe how the built-up environment is distinct from other
environments and provide concrete examples of effects thereof on
flora/fauna species composition, ecosystem processes, and people’s
2. Explain the mechanisms that allow certain kinds of species to fare
well in urban contexts.
3. Explain the role urban ecosystems play in people’s well-being in
different socio-economic and biophysical contexts.
4. Provide examples of human-wildlife conflicts in metropolitan
contexts, describe the conditions under which these may arise, and
formulate solutions to address these.
5. Illustrate how metropoles directly and indirectly affect land use and
biodiversity in other areas.
6. Apply an interdisciplinary approach in addressing metropolitan
environmental and ecological challenges and identify actions required to
create biodiversity- and adaptation-friendly cities and towns for the

Course Content

An increasing part of Earth’s terrestrial surface is taken up by urban
and peri-urban land use, forming large agglomerates known as metropoles
such as Tokyo, Shanghai, Delhi, Mexico city, São Paulo, New York, London
and Paris. These intensively-used areas are dynamic ecosystems with
distinct properties, hosting particular species and communities, but
also creating nuisances e.g. through invasive species or human-wildlife
conflicts. At the same time, metropolitan ecosystems are pivotal in
supporting human well-being, as over half of the global human population
lives in cities, facing challenges related to e.g. air quality, heat,
storm water, and space for leisure. Urban ecosystems can provide
services to address some of these challenges.
In this course we use an interdisciplinary approach to understand
specific challenges and opportunities of an urbanizing world for both
biodiversity, ecosystem processes, and people. Specifically we will
learn about 1) the opportunities and limitations of the urban
environment for biodiversity and species’ coping strategies; 2) the
environmental challenges associated with urbanization and human
well-being, and the role of ecosystems and their services in addressing
these challenges; 3) human-wildlife conflicts in metropolitan landscapes
and how these can be addressed.

Teaching Methods

We will use a combination of lectures, seminars, excursions, discussion
sessions and group work.
• Lectures
• Seminars
• Excursions/fieldwork
• Presentation and discussion sessions
• Self-study
• Working in groups on a research project

Method of Assessment

The course grade will be composed of two separate assessments, namely
• a group assignment (50% of final grade) and
• a written exam (50% of final grade).


• To be announced: The course material for the literature study consists
of scientific articles that can be obtained from the different
scientific journals via the University Library.
• Other: Hand-outs of the lectures will be placed on the online learning

Additional Information

The minimum number of students is 15. When the number of participants
exceeds 40, priority may be given to FPES students, followed by students
from other Earth Science, Ecology or Biological Science MSc tracks.
Students from other programs will have to send a letter of motivation.

Custom Course Registration UVA students should also register here via 'secondary courses'

Recommended background knowledge

Earth science, biology or ecology background

General Information

Course Code AM_1199
Credits 6 EC
Period P5
Course Level 500
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator dr. V. Seufert
Examiner dr. V. Seufert
Teaching Staff prof. dr. P.J. Ward
dr. ir. J. van Vliet
prof. dr. J. Ellers
dr. W.H. Halfwerk

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Seminar, Lecture, Computer lab, Practical, Excursion
Target audiences

This course is also available as: