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Course parameters:

  • Language: English
  • Level of course: PhD course (MSc students accepted)
  • Time of year:  4 - 8 October 2021
  • No. of contact hours/hours in total incl. preparation, assignment(s) or the like: 40/75
  • Capacity limits: 20 participants
  • 3 ECTS credits

Objectives of the course:

The Climate Change Ecological Entomology course offers hands-on training in ecological entomology within a real-life field research project setting. During this course, students will receive training on state-of-the-art methods and techniques used for collection and analysis of entomological data, with particular focus on field and trait-based approaches within a climate change context.

Arthropods perform critically important functions in food webs and ecosystems and are highly sensitive to the effects of environmental change. Despite their importance, the knowledge gaps in arthropod ecology are substantial. This is particularly problematic in Earth’s polar and alpine regions, where tundra ecosystems are responding rapidly to climate change. Species diversity is lower in these regions versus temperate and tropical regions, but baseline and long-term data about the distributions and abundances of arthropods and their relationships to abiotic variation is lacking. Also, the roles of arthropods in these ecosystems is only superficially described. This course will introduce students to recent advances in understanding the relationships between arthropod communities and abiotic variation using examples and data from tundra ecosystems. The course will demonstrate the roles that arthropods play in ecosystems. Samples and data on tundra arthropods will be used in combination with samples collected by students in this course as model systems for testing general ecological theory about how species respond to environmental variation.

Trait-based ecology approaches provide the tools necessary to scale up from the individual or species-level to ecosystem functioning and help predict how organisms may respond to and affect the environment. Following in the footsteps of advancements made within plant ecology, new trait-based approaches are now being developed within ecological entomology. This course will provide students with essential background knowledge and the practical field, lab, and computational skills needed for conducting their own entomological research while taking species traits into account.

The course will be held at the Molslaboratoriet biological station in the Mols Bjerge Nationalpark in Denmark, 4 - 8 October 2021 with pre-course reading and literature search (15 hours individual work) and post course report preparation (15 hours group work).

Students will be introduced to the environmental, ecological, and taxonomic diversity of the tundra region, and will be given hands-on instruction in relevant theory and methods of population and community ecology in the context of climate change and data management. Students will work in five groups:

  • Functional trait variation (e.g. body size)
  • Phenology
  • Biomass and population dynamics
  • Community structure and diversity
  • Biotic interactions (e.g. herbivory and pollination)

Learning outcomes and competences:

Through developing and conducting research projects students will discover the potential of functional trait-based approaches in understanding important aspects of arthropod ecology within a climate change context. In addition, students will build key research skills in planning and conducting ecological entomological field campaigns. You will gain practical experience in sampling arthropods, measuring environmental parameters in the field using standard protocols and in measuring functional traits and derive related population, community, and ecosystem data in the lab. You will become familiar with identification of different arthropod taxa. You will learn about the structure and analysis of trait data, be introduced to best practice data management and reproducible coding, as well as having the opportunity to analyse and interpret data yourself.

At the end of the course, the student should be able to:

  • Design and carry out entomological fieldwork in a climate change context
  • Quantify functional traits from specimens in entomological samples
  • Structure entomological databases
  • Derive ecological patterns from entomological data for analysis of climate change responses

Compulsory programme:

Mornings will be devoted to lectures and work on projects in groups, afternoons will include practicals, excursions, computer exercises and guest lectures as well as informal feedback on projects.

Course contents:

The course will cover methods for sampling arthropods and their abiotic environment, working with samples in the lab and supervision on project formulation. In addition, there will be a series of presentation on theory of ecological entomology related to functional traits, phenology, thermal performance, species interaction and diversity patterns as well as guest lectures by international teachers. Students will get a broad introduction to and hands-on experience with different aspects of ecological entomology.

Prerequisites: The course is aimed at graduate students (both MSc and PhD), but PhD students have priority. Students should have a background in ecology with a basic understanding in entomology.

Name of lecturers: Toke Thomas Høye, Hjalte Mann, and Søren Toft (Aarhus University), Peter Convey, (British Antarctica Survey, UK), Tone Birkemoe and Ruben Roos (NMBU, Norway), Amanda Koltz (Wash U, USA), Aud Halbritter (Univ. Bergen, Norway).

Type of course/teaching methods: Lectures, Exercises, Field excursions, Group work.

Literature: A reading list will be provided and students are asked to select relevant literature for their projects.

Course assessment: Each student will be evaluated based on a group presentation held during the course and a project report in the form of a project proposal. The evaluation will be based on the ability of the student to motivate their project, consideration to study design and analysis and the justification for their specific hypothesis based on relevant literature. In addition, the presentation skills of the students will be taken into account.

Provider: Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University with international teachers.

Special comments on this course:

  • Time: 4 - 8 October 2021
  • Place: Molslaboratoriet, Mols Bjerge Nationalpark, Denmark
  • Registration: Deadline for registration is 15 August 2021. Information regarding admission will be sent out no later than 20 August 2021.

If you have any questions, please contact senior scientist Toke Thomas Høye, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

More information can be found here.

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