Adaptation to Human Environments

Course code:
Period 2
Language of tuition:
Fac. der Aard- en Levenswetenschappen
dr. W.H. Halfwerk
dr. W.H. Halfwerk
prof. dr. J. Ellers
dr. W.H. Halfwerk
Teaching method(s):
Lecture, Computer lab, , Seminar

Course objective

This course addresses the potential and realized adaptation of organisms
to human impacted environments. We will focus on a number of distinct
types of anthropogenic environments that are globally widespread and
that are rapidly replacing natural environments through agriculture,
industry and urbanization. We will consider how this has led to the
formation of an evolutionary novel type of habitat: the anthropogenic
environment and discuss differences as well as similarities between
natural and anthropogenic habitats. Next we will identify important
selection pressures that are likely to be key drivers of anthropogenic
biodiversity. The final aim of the course is to understand whether and
how organisms adapt to human-altered environments and to use this
knowledge to improve, or manage biodiversity.

At the end of the course the student can:
a) Apply theory on community ecology to understand anthropogenic
b) Explain how species adapt to specific types of human activities
c) Understand the planetary boundary principle and describe benefits of
d) Design and carry out research on adaptation in human environments

Course content

- comparing anthropogenic and natural environments
- urban ecology / agroecology
- biodiversity of anthropogenic habitats
- planetary boundaries
- genetic adaptation
- developmental plasticity
- behavioural flexibility
- species interactions
- sensory pollution

Form of tuition

Lectures (ca. 16 hr)
Seminar and/or practicals (t.b.d.)

Type of assessment

Written examination
Oral and/or written assignment (t.b.d.)

Course reading

To be announced.

Recommended background knowledge

All preceding ecological courses in the curriculum.

Target audience

BSc Biology (part of minor programme Evolutionary Biology and Ecology,
third year).

© Copyright VU University Amsterdam
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