Flux of Matter and Energy from Sea to Land

The students will gain insight into seabird ecology and fluxes of matter and energy from marine to terrestrial ecosystems. The course will focus on the connections across the terrestrial-marine boundary, and the importance of the marine environment and productivity for some Arctic terrestrial ecosystems.

The main topic of interest will be Arctic seabirds that nest in large, dense colonies, their dependence on the hydrological regime and biological productivity in the waters around Svalbard. The impact of seabirds on the terrestrial ecosystem will be studied. Bird guano has an important fertilizing effect on the vegetation in the vicinity of colonies. The lush green area below seabird colonies is an eye-catching feature of an otherwise impoverished arctic landscape. These green oases are important grazing areas for herbiovores such as the Svalbard reindeer, Svalbard ptarmigan and geese and are also important hunting areas for carnivores such as the arctic fox.


Students will also focus on the interdependence of terrestrial and marine environments for important groups of arctic animals. The connection between land and sea will be described and quantified on the basis of our current understanding of the topic. In order to get a first-hand experience, the students will have one week of intensive field work, analysis of samples in the laboratory and putting these data into a model to calculate the fluxes from sea to land.

Course details

Academic level(s)Master
Language of instruction
InstitutionUniversity Centre in Svalbard
Begin date-
End date-
Registration deadline15.04.2014
ECTS credits10.0
Field schoolNo
Fields of studyBiology and biochemistryEnvironmental scienceLife science (broad programmes)
Teaching placeSvalbard
Tagssvalbardseabird ecologymarine ecosystemsterrestrial ecosystemsptarmigangeesearctic fox
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