NIGK15005U  Ecological Modelling

Volume 2015/2016

MSc Programme in Geography and Geoinformatics


The course teaches fundamental knowledge of ecological modelling, with a focus on processes in ecosystem and their environment. It addresses how numerical models can be used together with experiments and observations to understand the dynamics of ecosystems, and how these models can be applied to address the interactions between soil, vegetation and atmosphere in a quantitative manner.

The focus is on understanding and representing ecosystem processes, and on the design, implementation and assessment of numerical models to describe these. The course has a strong emphasis on hands-on experience in designing and implementing models, with computer exercises as the main method to practice this.

Learning Outcome


  • Modelling of biogeochemical processes in soil and vegetation, and the influence of environmental drivers on these
  • Modelling of population dynamics: exponential growth, logistic growth, and predator-prey models (Lotka-Volterra dynamics)



  • Description of systems with relational diagrams
  • Numerical integration (understanding of Euler forward integration, and basic knowledge of higher-order integration methods)



  • Ability to describe ecosystems and their processes in qualitative and quantitative ways
  • Understanding of the linkage between hypotheses, ecological theory and models, and between models and experiments/​observations.
  • Design of a model with state variables and their rates of change, definition of system boundaries
  • Understanding of the numerical integration of models
  • Critical assessment of the outcome of models, their sources of uncertainty, and the limitations of model design


Please see Absalon course page

BSc in Geography and Geoinformatics or equivalent.
The form of teaching is exercises combined with ad hoc lectures. For the teaching plan, please see Absalon.
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Oral examination, 20 minutes
The written assignment is prepared during the course and must be handed in prior to the exam week. The oral exam uses the written assignment as its point of departure. It includes the titles listed in the officially approved reading list.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Exam period

Several internal examiners.

Criteria for exam assesment

Please see learning outcomes.

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Theory exercises
  • 35
  • Project work
  • 35
  • Preparation
  • 136
  • Total
  • 206