Measuring nutrient dynamics in stream ecosystems

PhD course                                                             

Measuring nutrient dynamics in stream ecosystems

ECTS credits: 5 ECTS 

Course parameters:
Language: English
Level of course: PhD course/qualified MSc students are also welcome
Time of year: 2/8 – 6/8 2017 
No. of contact hours/hours in total incl. preparation, assignment(s) or the like: The total work load is 130 hours corresponding to 5 ECTS points. Preparatory work and reporting comprise 30 and 50 hours, respectively.
Capacity limits: Maximum number of participants: 16

Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Denmark

Objectives of the course:
The aim of the course is to give students the conceptual and practical skills to advance their understanding of nutrient dynamics in stream ecosystems.

Course contents:
The course will focus on lowland streams and consist of the following major parts:
1) Field work on nitrogen uptake and limitation in streams
2) Lab work including nitrogen assessment and sediment denitrification assays
3) Lectures on nitrogen dynamics in lotic ecosystems
4) Literature reading and seminar discussion.
5) Preparing report on field and lab work.

Compulsory programme:
Preparatory reading, active participation in course work, report.

Course contents:
Measurements of nutrient dynamics in stream ecosystems can be a powerful assessment tool to determine the effects of land-use and catchment activities on stream function as well as the efficacy of restoration projects that target nutrient transport reduction as a major goal. Hence, it is vital to use robust and reliable methods to quantify reach-scale nutrient uptake and removal. This hands-on course introduces students to a variety of important methodological approaches for measuring nutrient uptake and removal in streams and the laboratory using both reach-scale and lab-assay approaches (i.e., short-term nutrient releases, nutrient limitation assays (nutrient diffusing substrate), and sediment denitrification assays).

Following introductory lectures and discussions, students will conduct field studies on nutrient uptake, lab exercises on denitrification assays, and data analysis and interpretation. The course will thus enable students to conduct nutrient dynamic assessments in streams, analyse their data, and interpret the results of their study.   

The students should have a background in ecology, physical geography, soil science, agricultural science, environmental science, or related fields. 

Name of lecturers:
Tenna Riis (Associate Professor, Dept. of Bioscience, Aarhus University)
Peter Levi (Assistant Professor in Environmental Science, Drake University, USA) 

Type of course/teaching methods:
Lectures, field work, lab exercises, excursion, report writing 

Course assessment:
The students have to prepare a written report after the course including: (1) theoretical background, (2) description of field work and lab exercises, (3) description of results, and (4) discussion and conclusion based on the content of the course.

Provider and place of course:
Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Denmark 

Special comments on this course:
For PhD students enrolled from foreign universities, course fee covering materials is DKK 4000. Accommodation and meals are not provided, but organized by the students themselves. The website below provides information on traveling to/from Aarhus, housing options in the city, and other general information for interested students: 

Deadline for registration is 15/6 2017. Send an email to Tenna Riis ( with a short description of your interest in the course.