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Introduktion til akvatiske økosystemer, antropogene trusler og bæredygtige løsninger (Introduction to Aquatic Ecosystems, Anthropogenic Threats and Sustainable Solutions )



Course format On-site
Date 2020-08-31 - 2020-12-16

General course objectives

This course introduces the students to the structure and function of aquatic ecosystems, with examples of processes, habitats and key organisms of both marine and freshwater ecosystems. The course progresses with examples of how ecosystems and their species are influenced by a variety of human activities, and how environmental impacts can be assessed and managed, and how aquatic ecosystems can be restored. The course is introductory and particularly relevant to students with little previous knowledge about aquatic ecosystems, but may also be useful for students familiar with ecosystems but with little knowledge about human pressures and/or behavior and physiology of organisms. The course has focus on five overarching themes:

  1. An introduction to basic ecological processes such as primary production, microbial remineralization and secondary production which determine the structure and productivity of an aquatic ecosystem
  2. An introduction to marine and freshwater ecosystems including their specific habitats and key organisms
  3. An introduction to how humans negatively impact marine and freshwater ecosystems and examples of how such impacts can be mitigated
  4. An introduction of how the science of fish physiology and fish behavior can result in better understanding of ecosystem functioning and the consequences of human impacts on it
  5. An introduction to how the students can use their knowledge of aquatic ecosystems to work within aquaculture, fisheries, oceanography, or management of aquatic ecosystems and their resources


The course starts with an introduction to the basic processes of primary and secondary production and microbial degradation, as well as an introduction to habitats and food webs in different types of aquatic systems. Then, the students will be introduced to the main anthropogenic threats to aquatic systems and potential mitigation strategies to reduce the human impacts. Finally, the course will demonstrate 1) how research can contribute to better management of aquatic systems, by using research on fish physiology and behavior as an example, and 2) how knowledge of aquatic ecology can be used in careers dealing with aquaculture, fisheries or oceanography. The course addresses the UN Sustainable Development Goal #14 ‘Life Below Water’, particularly its targets to prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution (14.1), sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems (14.2), regulate harvesting and end overfishing (14.4) and conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas (14.5). The course includes lectures, classroom exercises, guest lectures and student presentations.

Learning outcomes

A student who has met the objectives of the course will be able to:

  • Describe the processes of primary production and microbial degradation, the factors limiting them and their geographic, seasonal and vertical variation
  • List the factors that influence secondary production, and describe the different pathways of carbon flow in aquatic ecosystems
  • Describe the basic characteristics of coastal vs. open ocean, polar vs. tropical marine, lentic vs. lotic freshwater ecosystems and the factors shaping them
  • List main anthropogenic disturbances of the aquatic ecosystems and ways to mitigate them
  • List and explain different methods to restore nutrient enriched lakes and low quality habitats in running water and explain their strengths and weaknesses
  • Describe the environmental challenges and potential sustainable solutions for aquaculture, shipping and off-shore industry
  • Describe different behavior and movement types in fish and how they can be investigated
  • Explain how our understanding of ecosystem functioning, anthropogenic impacts and their potential mitigation can be furthered by understanding of the spatial ecology of fish
  • Account for the physiological adaptations of fish and crustaceans in response to climate and environmental change
  • Present (orally) an example of a research dealing with spatial ecology of fish


ISCED Categories

Conservation and environmental management