Syllabus for Ecological Methods

Ekologisk metodik

A revised version of the syllabus is available.


  • 15 credits
  • Course code: 1BG324
  • Education cycle: Second cycle
  • Main field(s) of study and in-depth level: Biology A1N
  • Grading system: Fail (U), Pass (3), Pass with credit (4), Pass with distinction (5)
  • Established: 2007-03-15
  • Established by: The Faculty Board of Science and Technology
  • Revised: 2017-04-27
  • Revised by: The Faculty Board of Science and Technology
  • Applies from: Autumn 2017
  • Entry requirements:

    120 credits including (1) 60 credits in biology and 30 credits in chemistry or 30 credits in earth science, or (2) 90 credits in biology.

  • Responsible department: Biology Education Centre

Learning outcomes

The overall aim of the course is to convey a deeper theoretical and practical knowledge about terrestrial ecological methods by letting the participants plan, carry out, compile, critically review and evaluate ecological inventories and mappings. Thereby, the students will gain skills that are intended to be applied within ecological environmental monitoring. On completion of the course, the student should be able to

  • describe common methods used for terrestrial ecological inventories and mapping activities
  • evaluate and compare alternative methods for specific inventory and mapping purpose, and thereby be able to identify/justify the more relevant methods for different aims
  • independently plan and carry out suitable ecological inventories and mappings of various taxa
  • apply instructions in standardised monitoring programs and practice different field methods, mainly such applied in terrestrial environments
  • evaluate the use of indicator species within environmental monitoring programs
  • independently compile and evaluate the results of ecological inventories and mappings by using basic statistical methods/models
  • work with basic applications of GIS (geographic information system)
  • produce, present and discuss inventory and mapping results orally and in writing.


The first part of the course encompasses a thorough theoretical and practical orientation in common inventory and mapping methods and an overview of the statistical methods that are used for this type of studies. The emphasis lies here on terrestrial environments and biotic parameters, but examples from many different organism groups and habitats are included. Lectures also include GIS as well as programs for environmental monitoring (e g Natura 2000 and NILS, National Inventory of the Landscape in Sweden) whichare important instruments in the work for sustainable development. Applied elements occur in this part of the course in the form of field trips and problem-oriented group assignments, intended to give practical experience in the methods that the course covers. The importance of inventories and mappings within applied nature conservation (for example before creation of nature reserves and environmental monitoring) is described and be discussed.

The second part of the course is dominated of practical elements. During one of the final weeks the students carry out a number of inventories and mappings in groups. These will include e g vascular plants, invertebrates and birds. These activities are planned in detail before the field week, and is compiled, evaluated and presented after the field week.

The progression and useful competences for future jobs are provided by exercises, where the students may apply their knowledge in ecology from earlier courses and use them in practical nature conservation.


The teaching is given as lectures, field excursions, seminars and group assignments (methodology and computer exercises). Participation in the parts of the field project is compulsory, which also applies participation in seminars and group assignments. Students receive individual feedback on a short writing project at the start of the course, and are provided an exercise in peer-review and self-evaluation, which is linked to the field project.


Modules: Theory 7.5 credits; Exercises (including field course) 7.5 credits.

The theory part is examined in a written examination, requires active participation in seminars and a written report . The exercises (methodology and computer exercises) require active participation and are continuously assessed during the course. The field course is presented both in writing (project report) and orally.

Reading list

Reading list

Applies from: Autumn 2017

Some titles may be available electronically through the University library.

  • Sutherland, William J. Ecological census techniques : a handbook

    2. ed.: Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006

    Find in the library

  • Lawesson, Jonas Erik A concept for vegetation studies and monitoring in the Nordic countries

    Copenhagen: Nordic Council of Ministers, cop. 2000

    Find in the library

  • Samways, Michael J.; McGeoch, Melodie A.; New, T. R. Insect conservation : a handbook of approaches and methods

    Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010

    Entire chapter 2: Taxonomy and curation of insects. Distributed at the start of the course.

    Find in the library

Ekblom, R. 2011. Springtime for bird counts. An overview of common bird census techniques. Sveriges Ornitologiska Förening. All chapters. Distributed at the start of course.

Last modified: 2022-04-26