913008 Modelling tropical ecosystems

Lecture and seminar
Semester hours
Lecturer (assistant)
Pietsch, Stephan
Institute of Silviculture (WALDBAU)
Offered in
Wintersemester 2017/18
Languages of instruction


Ecosystems in the tropics differ from boreal, temperate and mid latitude ecosystems by several factors. High temperatures and precipitation levels are responsible for highly weathered soils with poor nutrient levels. Nevertheless, they may harbor some of the most biodiverse ecosystems supporting high biomass levels. Tropical rainforests resemble globally important Carbon stocks, but are also vulnerable to human management and impacts of climate change. Overexploitation and large scale clearing for agriculture may drastically reduce their Carbon carrying capacity leading to forest degradation, a switch to savannah vegetation or even barren land in case of erosion. Although case studies and examples exist the large scale impact of direct human interference and climate change remains at question. Due to the lack of data over large regions and the difficulty of experimentations a possibility is to turn to models to conduct numerical experiments. This course will present modelling options to assess effects of current land use practices and climate change. After an introductory phase, the students will have the possibility to exercise model applications to assess possible impacts of different land use and forest management scenarios.

Previous knowledge expected

Basic knowledge in ecology

Objective (expected results of study and acquired competences)

This course creates an understanding of the dynamics of tropical ecosystems and the possible consequences of direct human impact and climate change. Students will gain insight on the consequences of the use of forest resources (timber, NTFPs, etc.), traditional land use (shifting cultivation, savannah burning) and the ongoing intensification of these practices, and how climate change may alter the sustainability of human impact.
You can find more details like the schedule or information about exams on the course-page in BOKUonline.