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From source to sea

The minor from source to sea is a help in preserving our rivers for the future. You will learn to assess the present state of the river with regard to aquatic life (i.e. fish) and other biota, you will focus on identifying bottlenecks and look for solutions. These techniques will be practiced in small scale field laboratories in the Ems region (Germany). Students learn to classify waters in an integrated way involving the chemical, ecological, and morphological status. In fact, the techniques applied in this course, are elementary to EU guidelines that emerge from the Water Framework Directive. This implies that the scope of this course is relevant for students all over Europe that take an interest in the subject.

The catchment of the river Ems is subject of this module and will be studied in detail. It comprises all essential characteristics such as ‘typical’ upland, midland, lowland, estuarine and coastal zones. However the pristine conditions ‘in the past’ have gone by and the catchment is susceptible to the consequences of industrialization, urbanization and pollution. In this sense the Ems is exemplary for other catchment areas.
Students will analyse the present situation using a wide range of techniques such as field work, aerial photography, satellite imagery, GIS. Based on that they are expected to outline a plan comprising a number of measures to improve the situation.
Since the scope of the module is international, so are the students. Students from all over the European continent (and even outside) are welcome to join.


Having completed this minor the student is able to:

•     Recognise and explain the workings of ecology, management and policy of river catchment.

•     Deploy a number of inventory techniques in aquatic ecology, i.e. fish migration, macro organisms etc.

•     Analyse and explain the workings of the ecosystems of rivers, estuaries, lakes, mires and the connection with terrestrial ecosystems through ground- and surface water.

•     Work in an international ‘water’ environment.

•     Apply European policies and legislation regarding water, the environment and nature to an (inter)national context.

•     Assess the actual situation in the catchment area on the basis of existing guidelines with respect to the parameters of the WFD (Water framework Directive);

•     Development of a vision to adapt the present situation to a more   ‘ecologically sound’ water system. With special attention to fish migration.

•     Compose a monitoring plan, carry out the related fieldwork, make an analysis of the data and write an environmental monitoring report.

•     Use spatial planning (GIS) instrument to map issues regarding river catchment management (ecology, economy, human impact, etc.)

•     Translate the outcome of accumulated data to the consequences for the inhabitants, the effects on the quality of living, safety, the economic activities and recreation in the catchment area.

•     Advise on the identified issues, challenges and to formulate possible solutions for sustainable river catchment, ecology and management ;

•     To set up a development plan to close the gap between the actual situation and the preferred situation. The plan must be specific and concrete and should answer for the following question: what measures should be implemented where and how will they contribute to the preferred situation;

Aanvullende informatie

Costs for excursions and fieldwork is expected to be around €350,-.                            


Biology, including a basic understanding landscape ecology as well as a basic understanding of chemistry. All at a first year bachelor level. Knowledge of GIS is preferential.








Literature will be posted on blackboard