Specialisation Ecology

This specialisation focuses on ecological systems.

What will you learn?

The main theme in the Ecology specialisation is the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in changing marine and terrestrial environments. Field research, molecular techniques, modelling and quantitative analysis of large datasets form an integral part of this specialisation.


Students follow two specialisation courses. You have to choose at least one course from RO1A (courses about literature and scientific analysis) and one course from RO1B (courses that develop research skills relevant for the scientific discipline of the specialisation). The specialisation offers more than two courses, providing opportunities for further specialisation. Students also have the option of following more courses related to their specialisation within their free choice or to perform a second thesis research project.

Marine Systems (AEW): This course focuses on unravelling the key mechanisms that determine sustainability of the human use of marine ecosystems. Biological Interactions in Soils (SBL): This course deals with interactions between soil organisms and soil in the context of cycles of C, N and P.
Microbial Ecology (MIB): The course is an advanced course on the occurrence, diversity and activity of microorganisms in man-made and natural-ecosystems. Plant, Vegetation and Systems Ecology (PEN): You will have lectures and tutorials on sampling, analysing and interpretation of vegetation and abiotic data.
Complexity in Ecological Systems (AEW): The course offers a modern complexity view on ecology. Disease Ecology (REG): The overarching aim of the course is to offer a current and comprehensive view of the causes and consequences of infectious diseases at the levels of individuals, populations, communities and ecosystems.
Comparative Biology and Systematics (BIS): The course focuses on the analysis of comparative data, at and above the species level. Ecological Aspects of Bio-interactions (ENT): The course focuses on bio-interactions between invertebrates, micro-organisms and plants, and between beneficial organisms and pathogens and their hosts in natural and agro-ecosystems.
Ecological Modelling and Data Analysis in R (CSA): This course presents a conceptual framework and the hands-on skills for ecological modelling. Molecular Aspects of Bio-Interactions (PHP): The course focuses on the molecular basis of the interactions of plants with attackers, and beneficial organisms.
Fisheries Ecology (AFI): The course deals with the ecology of fishes and other aquatic organisms in relation to the exploitation of aquatic resources. Environmental Toxicology (TOX): This course gives an overview of different aspects playing a role in the challenging field of environmental toxicology.
Forest Ecology and Forest Management (FEM): This course provides an overview of the state of the art in the fields of forest ecology and forest management. Animal Ecology (REG): This course provides a deeper understanding of animal-animal, animal-food and animal-environment interactions at various levels.
Population and Quantitative Genetics (GEN): This course explains genetic and molecular evolution and their relationship to phenotypic evolution. Behavioural Ecology (BHE) The course Behavioural Ecology provides insight into how evolution through natural selection shapes behaviour of animals (domestic or wild, vertebrate or invertebrate).
Marine Animal Ecology (MAE): This course aims at providing knowledge and understanding on the functioning, resilience, and health of marine animals in interaction with their environment.

Thesis and internship

Thesis examples

Chair group Microbiology

  • Development of genetic systems for syntrophic bacteria
  • Exploring microbial diversity of marine sponges using 16S rRNA High-Throughput methods
  • Genomic analysis of symbionts to understand the nature of symbiosis

Chair group Nematology

  • Virulence of soil-borne pathogens and invasion by Prunus serotina
  • A ribosomal DNA-based framework for the detection and quantification of stress-sensitive nematode families in terrestrial habitats

Chair group Toxicology

  • Effects of endocrine disrupting compounds on biomarkers and reproduction of fish
  • Risk-benefit analysis of natural constituents in rosemary

Chair group Wildlife Ecology and Conservation

  • Hunting tactics of Peregrines and other falcons
  • Mechanisms of small scale foraging by large herbivores