Course: Resource ecology: interaction of soil, vegetation and herbivores

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Course title Resource ecology: interaction of soil, vegetation and herbivores
Course code EKO/EZI
Organizational form of instruction Lecture
Level of course Master
Year of study not specified
Semester Summer
Number of ECTS credits 4
Language of instruction Czech
Status of course Compulsory-optional
Form of instruction Face-to-face
Work placements This is not an internship
Recommended optional programme components None
  • Mládek Jan, Mgr. Ph.D.
Course content
Lectures 1-2. C-S-R strategy scheme by Grime and L-H-S concept by Westoby 3-4. Plant economy spectrum on the gradient of resource availability and disturbance 5-6. Parasitic plants - analogical effects as herbivores 7. Student's presentations of critical analyses of published studies 8-9. Optimal foraging theory - marginal value theorem, trade-off in food quality and quantity 10-11. Impact of large herbivores grazing or browsing on soil properties - nutrient availability 12-13. Concept of food preference vs diet selection, selectivity indices

Learning activities and teaching methods
Monologic Lecture(Interpretation, Training), Dialogic Lecture (Discussion, Dialog, Brainstorming), Work with Text (with Book, Textbook)
  • Homework for Teaching - 1 hour per semester
  • Preparation for the Course Credit - 5 hours per semester
  • Preparation for the Exam - 10 hours per semester
  • Semestral Work - 3 hours per semester
Learning outcomes
Aim of the course is to introduce students to different life history strategies and their benefits under distinct levels of light, water, nutrient availability as well as under temporal fluctuations of these resources. Generally accepted plant strategy schemes of C-S-R by Grime and L-H-S by Westoby will be demonstrated. Students will gain insight into 'plant economy spectrum', i.e. which environmental conditions (levels of resource availability, disturbance) favor quickly growing plants with short organ lifespan, which support plants with storage organs, which give advantage to plants with high nutrient resorption proficiency. As resource availability and also success of every plant strategy in the environment is substantially modified by herbivores, several lectures will be focused also on the herbivore's behavioural strategies. Attention will be devoted to the factors influencing the distribution of herbivores in time and space, hence to those being responsible for migration patterns of large herbivores. Students will get an overview of methods for determination of resource availability and utilization by herbivores, and after completing the course will be able to calculate herbivore's food preferences.
- knowledge of adaptation of plants on stress and disturbance - knowledge of mechanisms determining large herbivore distribution in time and space - capability to predict impact of selective grazing on plant community structure and soil nutrient availability - calculation of food preferences with the help of selectivity indices
- willingness of generating and testing ecological hypothesis - general overview in plant and animal ecology - knowledge of handling data in spreadsheet (MS Excel) - knowledge of basic statistical techniques and data handling in statistical software (e.g. Statistica) - own laptop
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Assessment methods and criteria
Oral exam, Written exam, Systematic Observation of Student, Seminar Work

- active participiation in discussion during lectures - 2 points - critical analysis of published study and its presentation in course - 3 points - writing of seminar work - 5 points
Recommended literature
  • Craine JM (2009). Resource strategies of wild plants. Princeton University Press. Princeton.
  • Danell K, Bergström R, Duncan P, Pastor J (2006). Large herbivore ecology, ecosystem dynamics and conservation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge..
  • Gordon IJ, Prins HHT (2008). The ecology of browsing and grazing. Springer, Berlin..
  • Hejcmanová P, Mládek J (2012). Diet selection of herbivores on species rich pastures. In: Hendriks BP, Agricultural Research Updates - Volume 2, p. 167-206, Nova Science Publishers, New York..
  • Lechowicz MJ (1982). sampling characteristics of electivity indices. Oecologia 52:22-30..
  • Pennings SC, Callway RM (2002). Parasitic plants: parallels and contrasts with herbivores. Review. Oecologia 131:479-489..
  • Prins HHT, Langevelde F (2008). Resource ecology: spatial and temporal dynamics of foraging. Springer, Berlin..
  • Stephens DW, Krebs JR (1987). Foraging theory. Princeton University Press, Princeton..
  • White TCR (2005). Why does the world stay green? Nutrition and survival of plant-eaters. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood..

Study plans that include the course
Faculty Study plan (Version) Branch of study Category Recommended year of study Recommended semester