Natural ecosystems are dynamic systems governed by different abiotic and biotic drivers operating over short to long time scales. Human activities are rapidly changing the environment with many direct and indirect effects on ecosystem dynamics. In consequence, we are experiencing a major biodiversity crisis that could result in the sixth mass extinction of the Earth’s history. Understanding the complexity of past and current ecosystem dynamics and their main drivers is key for developing more sustainable futures.

This module will provide the conceptual basis for understanding ecosystem dynamics by drawing on lessons from ecological theory, paleoecology, and modelling. Participants will learn how a combination of data and models can help us understand past and anticipate future responses of species and ecosystems to environmental changes, and how these insights can be applied to design dynamic conservation and more sustainable ecosystem management.