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Ecosystem roles of megafauna in the past, present, and future—theory and methods for basic and applied science

ECTS credits:



Course parameters:

Language: English

Level of course PhD course:

Time of year: 28 November – 2 December 2022

No. of contact hours/hours: 100 hours total: 60 contact hours, 40 hours preparation and project work.

Capacity limits: 15 Students

Course fee: 1250 DKK


Objectives of the course:

This short course will provide students with a general overview of megafauna ecosystem ecology including the evolutionary history and biogeography of megafauna, current theoretical concepts related to megafauna-ecosystem interactions, practical analysis of megafauna trait and occurrence datasets, overview of megafauna conservation and restoration ecology, as well as rigorous assessment of ongoing and future megafauna-based rewilding projects.


Learning outcomes and competences:

At the end of the course, the student should be able to:

- Evaluate the role of megafauna for ecosystem functioning and ecological restoration.

- Identify key datasets for fossil and modern megafauna studies and their advantages and limitations.

- Design and execute a short research project on megafauna ecosystem ecology and present it in a format that could be used for outreach, e.g for a popular science blog.


Compulsory programme:

Students must actively participate in lectures, course discussions, group projects, and workshops.


Course contents:

The course will consist of an engaging mixture of short lectures, discussion groups, field trips, and hands-on labs and will offer a detailed introduction to megafauna history and ecology.



A working knowledge of the statistical programming language R is necessary for the lab sections.


Name of lecturers:

Dr Elizabeth le Roux

Dr. Robert Buitenwerf

Dr Rasmus Østergaard Pedersen

Dr Juraj Bergman

Prof. Jens-Christian Svenning


Type of course/teaching methods:

Lectures, seminars, group project work, analysis workshops, field trips.



Various primary literature sources will be used (including 25 scientific papers).

Students must have R installed on their computers before the course.


Course assessment:

Students will be assessed based on daily class participation and presentation and quality of a research project, which has to be reported in the format of a popular science blog, within 1 month after end of the course.



Department of Biology



28 November – 2 December 2022, 9:00-17:00 Monday through Friday (with extra lab work time in evenings)



Aarhus campus, field trips to either Lille Vildmose or Molslaboratoriet


NB!: Course fee: 1250 DKK for expenses associated with a field trip.

Deadline for registration is 24 October 2022. Information regarding admission will be sent out no later than 31 October 2022.

For registration: Applicants must submit a CV and one page motivation letter to Elizabeth le Roux (eleroux@bio.au.dk)

If you have any questions, please contact Elizabeth le Roux (eleroux@bio.au.dk)

25178 / i43