autumn 2014
BIO-8006 Environmental systems: integrating monitoring, research and management - 10 ECTS

Last changed 07.01.2016

Application deadline


Type of course

A course for PhD students in environmental sciences.

Admission requirements

Maximum 30 participants.

Use this application form to register on the course and send it to Ingjerd Gauslaa Nilsen at BFE Faculty, University of Tromsø:

Admission PhD Courses

Course content

Two important challenges in environmental sciences are to assess how human drivers impact on environmental systems and the effectiveness of management policies to adapt or mitigate these impacts. Answering these challenges implies we need to set up multidisciplinary monitoring systems that can efficiently measure changes and identify causes of changes for entities that, more often than not, are monitored on incongruent scales. The course therefore aims at integrating monitoring, research and management around three themes:

For climate systems, the course will, with an emphasis on the Arctic region, utilize local, regional and global examples of utilizing data and models in combination to assess monitoring systems ability to detect and attribute climate change. The examples will be utilized for conceptual discussions of strategies for designing climate monitoring systems on a cascade of scales.

For ecological systems, the course will illustrate the basic concepts of ecosystem functioning and management, and how climate interacts with other drivers to affect ecosystem dynamics, with the use of case studies from terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems.

For the relationships between society, climate and ecological systems, the course will in particular focus on how society involvements can be made operational within adaptive monitoring/management framework.

For each theme, the course will rely on concrete case studies from northern regions, as well as presentations of general principles, such as adaptive management and monitoring.

Objectives of the course

After the course the students should have knowledge about:

-principles of adaptive management

-principles of adaptive monitoring

-examples of monitoring systems of northern climate systems

-examples of monitoring systems of northern marine environments

-examples of monitoring systems of northern freshwater environments

-examples of monitoring systems of northern terrestrial environments



-Identification of relevant scales and design of climate monitoring systems

-Identification of relevant scales and design of ecosystem monitoring program

-Multidisciplinary dialogue between climate, ecosystem and social sciences


General competence:

-Be able to critically assess monitoring programs

-Evaluate the integration of monitoring objectives and design

-Assess societal involvement in monitoring programs

-Knowledge of northern social-ecological systems

Language of instruction


Teaching methods

lectures: 30 hours, seminars: 30 hours.


Oral examination.Pass/Fail.

There will not be arranged a re-sit exam for this course.


Recommended reading/syllabus

The curriculum will consist of scientific papers presenting the scientific principles of adaptive management and monitoring as well as concrete examples of monitoring systems of northern systems.

Some papers are listed below:

Lindenmayer DB, Likens GE (2009) Adaptive monitoring: a new paradigm for long-term research and monitoring. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 24, 482-486.

McGuire, A. D., L. G. Anderson, T. R. Christensen, S. Dallimore, L. D. Guo, D. J. Hayes, M. Heimann, T. D. Lorenson, R. W. Macdonald, and N. Roulet. 2009. Sensitivity of the carbon cycle in the Arctic to climate change. Ecological Monographs 79:523-555.

Meltofte H, Christensen TR, Elberling B, Forchhammer MC, Rasch M (2008) High-arctic ecosystem dynamics in a changing climate - Ten years of monitoring and research at Zackenberg Research Station, Northeast Greenland - Introduction. In: Advances in Ecological Research, Vol 40, pp. 1-12. Elsevier Academic Press Inc, San Diego.

Nichols JD, Williams BK (2006) Monitoring for conservation. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 21, 668-673.

Walters CJ (2007) Is adaptive management helping to solve fisheries problems? Ambio 36, 304-307.

Yoccoz NG, Nichols JD, Boulinier T (2001) Monitoring of biological diversity in space and time. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 16, 446-453.

  • About the course
  • Campus: Tromsø |
  • ECTS: 10
  • Course code: BIO-8006