PhD Course - Ecological stability vs resilience: straightening up concepts and making them useful for management, 3.0 ECTS

After the course, students should be able to: • Discuss and evaluate different definitions of ecological stability and resilience • Relate these concepts to ecosystem management and conservation • Apply the key theoretical underpinnings of stability/resilience research in developing their own research topics • Identify methods for quantifying stability/resilience that are appropriate for their own research topic • Assess the value of stability/resilience in bioassessment, particularly in relation to their own research topic, and discuss advantages and possible pitfalls of these approaches

Course homepage

Target group

Students should have an undergraduate degree in environmental science, ideally at an advanced level. Some sections of the course will address deeper aspects of ecological theory, and thus previous courses in basic ecology would be very beneficial, though parts of the course will also be suitable for students with a more limited ecological background who are nevertheless interested in the topic of ecological stability and resilience.


Time: 2015-10-26 - 2015-11-30
Location: Uppsala
Organiser: FoSW
Last signup date: 1 October 2015
Additional info:

Updated course scedule will be found at the course homepage shortly.

Course content

The concepts of ecological stability and resilience have over the last two decades stimulated research focused on the ability of communities and ecosystems to cope with disturbances, and are increasingly important in policy and management because of their strong linkages with ecosystem services. The current ubiquity of these concepts has led to an expansion of definitions and uses, creating barriers in understanding and quantification of these concepts both in research and education. Comprised by eminent scientists in the fields of ecological stability and resilience, the teaching staff of this course will cover broadly freshwater, marine and terrestrial environments, dealing with basic definitions, the relationship between stability/resilience and ecosystem services, and several currently topical themes in these research fields.  These include the roles of scaling ecology, functional traits and calculation of functional diversity, an overview of biodiversity-ecosystem functioning research, alternative states and regime shift theory. Throughout, a range of practical methods for quantifying stability and resilience will be covered, as will the application of these methods in biomonitoring and environmental assessment.

Format, date and location

The course will consist on one week (26th – 30th October) of five, full day sessions, each including lectures and discussion and other exercises, that will take place at the SLU campus in Uppsala.

Number of course participants

The course requires at least five participants. The maximum number of participants is 12.

Course evaluation

The course is graded as pass/fail

To receive full credits for the course, participants should:

•  Read the literature provided before the course. The literature consists of publications connected to the lectures.

•  Actively participate in the workshop discussions.

•  Attend all sessions.  While it is permissible to miss sessions, the points awarded will be down weighted according to the number of sessions missed. Note that if there are more than 12 students interested in taking the course, priority will be given to students able to attend all sessions.

•  Give an oral presentation that explains how their own research might be extended by incorporating some of the concepts or methodologies covered in the course. Thus, for students whose projects already focus on some aspects of ecosystem stability/resilience, their presentation should explain how new concepts and/or methodological approaches could extend the scope of their research.