Single-Course English 5 ECTS

Introduction to aquatic ecosystems and their organisms

Overall Course Objectives

The course will provide the participants with a basal understanding of aquatic ecology, organism biology and biodiversity, including concepts of ecosystem function and services. All topics covered, will be placed in context of fisheries, aquaculture or biodiversity conservation and restoration.
After having completed this course, participants with no prior education or other backgrounds from within the field of ecology and organism biology, should be sufficiently equipped to face the remainder of the study program of Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture. Students with a bachelor in aquatic ecology, wildlife biology or similar, should contact the head of education (on Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture) to see if this course should be optional rather than compulsory to the education in Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture.

Learning Objectives

  • Outlining differences between the major ecosystem groupings based on biotic and abiotic characteristics (incl. habitat descriptions).
  • Identifying key trophic linkages in different ecosystems.
  • Summarizing major life histories and traits.
  • Define genetic plasticity in the context of local adaptations
  • Sketching food web structures and intra-specific dependencies.
  • Matching habitats with fauna and fish communities.
  • Explaining the meaning of “biodiversity” in different contexts.
  • Deducing ecosystem services from ecosystem descriptions.
  • Inferring simple ecological relationships from observations.

Course Content

Most of earth is covered in water and below the surface a diversity of habitats and organisms can be encountered. In combination with the physical and chemical environment, these makes up distinct and interconnected ecosystems with unique characteristics. A fundamental understanding of the functioning of these ecosystems is vital when we attempt to innovate sustainable solutions of the future that safeguard biodiversity and ecosystem services. The course constitute a series of lectures with associated group assignments in the classroom, lab and in the field. The group assignment is spread out during the course period requires a total of four deliveries in the form of reports or similar. Lectures will introduce (1) the abiotic and biotic components and functions of ecosystems in freshwater, estuarine and marine environments, (2) life history adaptions (incl. the basal genetic mechanisms) and trait biology, (3) habitat types and functions, and (4) community networks and intra-specific dependencies (incl. food webs and animal trophic cascades).

Teaching Method

Lectures, group assignments, and field excursions



This course provides students with competences relevant to UN SDGs, particularly #13 (Climate action) and #14 (Life below water)

See course in the course database.





13 weeks




DTU Hirtshals Campus

Course code 25350
Course type Candidate

7.500,00 DKK