Ecology is the scientific study of the distribution and abundance of organisms and the interactions that determine distribution and abundance. Over the past decades, ecology has grown from an obscure science into a position at the forefront of public and political consciousness. Applied ecology has become an important scientific tool to address important political and environmental issues.

Ecology is generally divided into 4 levels: the individual organism, the population (consisting of individuals of the same species),the community (in which several species are living together) and the ecosystem (the relationship between living creatures and their chemical and physical surroundings). Most elements in ecosystems are in dynamic balance and species adapt to changes. For that reason also attention is paid to changing species: evolution.

Evolution is considered the central unifying theory in ecology and in biology in general. Many aspects of ecology can only be explained using the theory of evolution. In this course, evolution is covered by two chapters in the course textbook, by reading a science book of choice about evolution, and via an online evolution course.

Ecology is a complex science. It draws on many areas of knowledge such as organic and inorganic chemistry, plant and animal biology, physiology, meteorology, and even economics. This course focuses on the basic principles of ecology, from individuals to ecosystems. We then proceed to environmental conditions and resources, and the 4 levels of ecology: individuals, populations, communities and ecosystems. In addition, the students will give a presentation about an important principle in ecology. Two weeks will be spend on ecological modelling, as an important tool for understanding and predicting ecological systems. We will conclude with some actual cases of applied ecology.