The students become familiar with the key processes controlling nutrient dynamics in aquatic environments. They obtain knowledge about the societal, economical, and environmental implications of anthropogenic perturbations of the nutrient dynamics in aquatic environments. Students learn how to design experiments or how to plan the collection and analyses of environmental samples in order to answer research questions. Furthermore, they learn how to combine experimental data and field measurements and to integrate them with knowledge from scientific literature in order to answer the research questions and to evaluate the obtained information in a broader context.
In this course students learn how to perform a field campaign and biogeochemical experiments in order to answer research questions related to the nutrient dynamics in aquatic environments. This includes: testing and preparing analytical and experimental methods, collecting and analyzing environmental samples, performing experiments, interpretation of analytical and experimental data, and presentation of the results orally and in a written form.
The fieldwork consists of three parts: a preparation period in Utrecht, a field campaign, and a period of data interpretation and report writing in Utrecht. During the preparation period, the students give presentations related to the subject and the objectives of the fieldwork. Furthermore, they practice analytical procedures and experimental methods which are required during the fieldwork. During the fieldwork campaign, water samples from rivers, estuaries, and marine locations are collected and analyzed. Additionally, sediment cores will be taken and analyzed. Laboratory experiments are conducted in order to quantify individual processes related to the nutrient fluxes in the investigated environments. The analytical and experimental data are finally integrated in order to characterize the trophic state of the investigated systems, to determine the nutrient fluxes between the different compartments of the systems, and to investigate the interplay between physical and biological processes in controlling the nutrient dynamics. The results of the fieldwork are presented in reports
Development of transferable skills
- Leadership: Students work in teams; each day someone takes the task of the team leader who takes the responsibility that the team activities are target orientated and who reports about the team activities.
- Ability to work in a team: All tasks are performed in teams. The teams often operate independently during field campaigns. Important hereby is making decisions about the selection of sampling sites and sampling approaches.
- Written communication skills: Results of fieldwork are presented in reports. Feedback is given on the reports and students have to revise the reports based on the comments.
- Verbal communication skills: Students have to give scientific presentations about a subject related to nutrient dynamics in aqueous environments.
- Problem-solving skills: In the field, teams often have to define a strategy for fulfilling the assigned tasks, including the identification of sampling sites and performing the sampling.
- Analytical/quantitative skills: students have to integrate the data collected in the field and in the laboratory, in combination with knowledge from scientific literature and model calculations, in order to answer the allocated research questions.
- Flexibility/adaptability: Depending on conditions and observations during field campaigns and during laboratory work, the sampling programme or the analytical / experimental approach have to be adjusted.
- Technical skills: students are introduced to a variety of methods to characterize the chemical and physical properties of water or sediment samples. They are introduced to methods to determine processes and fluxes in situ or in laboratory experiments.
: There are only a limited number of places available. A pre-registration will be preformed and announced via Blackboard to evaluate whether a selection will be necessary. In case a selection has to be performed the criteria will be: 1) participation in the pre-registration 2) participation in MSc courses with biogeochemical signature (GEO4-1439, GEO4-1440)
Please note: Registration for this course only during the regular registration period.