Ecosystem Modelling

Dit vak wordt in het Engels aangeboden. Omschrijvingen kunnen daardoor mogelijk alleen in het Engels worden weergegeven.

Doel vak

Students will be able to:
- Write and run a simple computer program and visualize its outcome.
- Used a numerical model for answering ecological and environmental

Inhoud vak

Where science unravels more and more physiological, physical and
ecological processes, models can help to synthesize this knowledge in a
consistent numerical framework. Also, when field experiments are
impossible, unethical or excessively expensive, simulation experiments
can be used to forecast the outcome of different treatments or climate
scenarios. This course will introduce the different usages of numerical

The basic tools of the trade will be introduced and implemented during
supervised computer-based exercises. Moreover, a more challenging model
simulating self-organisation of vegetation in arid regions, herding,
tree growth or coral growth will be built. The course builds on
ecological, physical and mathematical knowledge and skills obtained
during the BSc years to construct new skills: basic computer
programming, numerical modelling and critical thinking in the context of
numerical models.


The course consists of 7 hours of lectures and 52 hours of supervised
computer-based exercise classes. An additional 100 hours of unsupervised
study is required to complete the exercises. The course Ecological
Modelling accounts for 6ECTS.

The lectures address:
- Overview of the main ecosystem models (week 1)
- Basics of computer programming (week 1-3)
- Developing a spatially explicit ecological model (week 4-8)


The spatially explicit ecological model and its presentation will be
graded to make up the final grade: 8 points for the code of the
spatially explicit ecological model developed in weeks 4 to 8 and 2
points for the presentation of the model and its results.

The exercise should be handed in before 13.00 am the day of the
deadline. Students will receive their grade and feedback within three
working days following the deadline. If your score is between 1 and 6
you get another week to revise the exercise based on the feedback and
aim for a 6 max.


During the computer practicals at the VU, Matlab will be used. Students
who want to do the unsupervised work at home are recommended to use
OCTAVE which is a free open-source initiative that is almost fully
compatible with Matlab.


MSc Third year BSc students in Biology and Minor Evolutionary Biology
and Ecology with an interest in quantitative macroecology

Aanbevolen voorkennis

Ecologie, mens en natuur I (AB_1001) and Ecologie, mens en natuur II
(AB_1002) or Ecologie (AB_1242)
Levensgemeenschappen en ecosystemen (AB_1208) or Ecosystemen (AB_1258)
and Levensgemeenschappen (AB_1262)

Algemene informatie

Vakcode AB_1218
Studiepunten 6 EC
Periode P1
Vakniveau 300
Onderwijstaal Engels
Faculteit Faculteit der Bètawetenschappen
Vakcoördinator dr. ir. S. Luyssaert
Examinator dr. ir. S. Luyssaert
Docenten dr. ir. S. Luyssaert

Praktische informatie

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Werkvormen Hoorcollege, Computerpracticum