Course details
Course general details
Soil, Biodiversity and Life: The contribution of soil to sustainability of life
Course contents
Nov 18, 2012
Nov 21, 2012
Soils are pivotal for a vast amount of the biodiversity on our planet and this biodiversity is crucial for providing ecosystem services that enable life on earth in a far wider realm than soil alone. However, human activities resulting into land use changes, climate and temperature change and invasive exotic species are causing major threats to soils, their diversity and their support of life. This post-graduate course on Soil, Biodiversity and Life focuses on the contribution of soil biodiversity in system functioning, particularly on the possibilities of society to monitor its effects on soil biodiversity and ecosystem processes, and to use this information for mitigation and adaptation in order to enhance sustainability of life on earth. The course is linked to the annual workshop of EU-EcoFinders (Ecological Function and Biodiversity Indicators in European Soils), which will be held from 20-23 November in Wageningen. The high profile Symposium on Tuesday 20 November will be a shared activity of the PhD course, EcoFinders, and Current Themes in Ecology and this will also be open for a wider audience.

The course is composed of a participant introduction session via a poster carousel, a series of lectures from prominent researchers who are active in this field, subsequent discussions, working group activities and a symposium on the topic in which (inter)national specialists will give their view.

1. Poster Carousel
The poster-carousel involves a set of 20-minute parallel sessions in which participants present themselves with a poster which accordingly is discussed. Prior to the course, participants will receive a poster format which they can use to make the poster. A PDF of the poster (A4 size) must be sent to the course office where the poster will be printed in A1 size.

2. Lectures and Discussion
Each lecture (45 minutes) on Sunday and Monday is followed by a 15 minute discussion in which all participants must have noted at least one question or issue for the speaker. Participants will be selected at random to present their case.

3. Symposium
On the third day of the course (Tuesday) a symposium will be held which has the same focus as the course. The symposium, which is open to a broader scientific public, in embedded in the annual Current Themes in Ecology series which is organised by NERN (Netherlands Ecological Research Network). In the symposium world leading specialists will give their view of the role of soil and their biodiversity in system resilience and resistance. Course participants must be present as the information supplied in the symposium is needed to perform the group work assignment.

4. Working groups
Group work consists of a critical reflection of the 6 EU-EcoFinders work packages where participants are expected to provide their fresh view on the role of soil biodiversity in system functioning is tackled in a multidisciplinary research consortium. Participants will be split into 6 groups where each group will tackle one of the work packages. Before the start of the course participants will be informed which group they will be part of and the work-package they are assigned to. Accordingly information will be given about the work-package and participants are expected to critically reflect and read about this work package before the start of the course. On the first day of the course, group members convene to discuss their findings and accordingly which information is still needed to strengthen the reflection and to come with suggestions for improvement/alterations. The course leaders and work-package leaders will be available as resource people during the working group session. Besides the Sunday, time will be allotted for working group sessions on Monday and Tuesday evening as well as Wednesday when they need to finalise their presentation.

On the last day on the course (Wednesday), participants of the course will attend the EcoFinders meeting and be involved into small working groups. Accordingly they finalise their reflection and prepare a presentation on the work-package which will be presented on Wednesday evening for the entire EcoFinders group (c. 50 participants) and fellow course participants.


PROGRAMME   (Preliminary)

Sunday: Introduction, getting started and poster carousel
- Registration
- Welcome and introduction to the course
- Introduction Key-note: Soil ecology and biodiversity in perspective (Heikki Setälä, University of Helsinki, Finland)
- Poster Carousel
- Introduction to Group work
- Group work: Groups discuss their assignment, approach and planning

Monday: Lectures and discussion
- Soils under abiotic stress  (Franciska de Vries, Lancaster University, England)
- Soils under biotic stress (Wim van der Putten, Netherlands Institute of Ecology)
- Novelties in soil ecology’s toolkit (George Kowalchuk, Netherlands Institute of Ecology)
- Networking soil biota (Elisa Thebault, University of Paris, France)
- Soils, ecosystem services and economy (Katarina Hedlund, Lund University, Sweden)
- Introduction to the EU-EcoFinders project (Philippe Lemanceau, INRA, France)

Tuesday :  Current Themes in Ecology - Soil, Biodiversity and Life: The contribution of soil to sustainability of life
A number of world-renowned speakers has already confirmed their contributions:
- Overview of soil biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (David Wardle, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Umea, Sweden)
- The microbial component (Jim Prosser, University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom)
- The faunal component (Paulo Sousa, University Coimbra, Portugal)
Ecological consequences
- Aboveground-belowground linkages (Martijn Bezemer, Netherlands Institute of Ecology)
- Soils, cycles, and carbon dynamics (Richard Bardgett, Lancaster University, United Kingdom)
- Feedbacks: mechanisms and consequences (Gerlinde De Deyn, Wageningen University)
- Historical contingencies and legacy effects (Tadashi Fukami Stanford University, USA)

Wednesday: Interaction with the Eco-Finders Programme
- Participantion in EcoFinders presentations
- Preparation of opinions on EcoFinders
- Presentation views on EcoFinders

Course conditions
Nov 11, 2012

- SENSE / PE&RC / RSEE PhDs with TSP: € 250
- Other PhDs and staff of organising institutes: € 500
- All others: € 800


Fees do not include B&B. Extra costs for B&B are around € 80 per person per night for a single and € 50,- per person per night for a double. For information on accommodation and reservation of a room please click here. When booking a room please mention that you are part of the  "Soil, Biodiversity and life" meeting.

Please note: When you have registered for the course you are automatically registered for the Current Themes in Ecology Symposium on Tuesday

For registration please click here

Full registration only occurs once you have provided us with the requested information as stated above. Afterwards you will receive an official registration confirmation by one of the course organizers.

Dr. C. Van de Vijver
Tel: + 31 (0)317-485116
Fax: + 31 (0)317-485572
Email: Claudius.vandeVijver(at)

Oct 23, 2012
Registration Closed