15-21 September 2017, University of Helsinki Viikki campus

3 ECTS credits

copyright photo Trevor Sims


Course outline
The course will consider the hierarchy of scales over which the effects of the environment on plants can be considered in the context of climate change. The central themes of the course will be how phenotypic and genotypic plasticity to climatic forcing influence plant species fitness and whether this fitness can be considered in isolation or only in the context of the community/ecosystem that supports a species.
The lectures will be structured in such a way that an introductory lecture on the theme will reinforce the background information on a topic (that the participants are expected to know prior to their attendance). Subsequently, the invited experts from around Europe will give two lectures; (1) on the methodology used to do research into their topic, and (2) on their research and how it fits in the context of this field of study.
One day of the course will be devoted to each of the four main themes, with a discussion session following each lecture, and a series of questions to address and present to the forum by the students during each discussion. There will be a wrap-up session at the end of the course which will be designed to bring together the themes and summarise our conclusions.
The themes will be interlinked and the invited experts will be present during the whole week to give the students the benefit of their expertise. Broader questions will also be tackled: examples include, assisted migration to pre-empt climate change; how our knowledge of adaptive traits can be applied to improve fitness; conservation and preservation of relict populations where should we prioritise; the potential for phenological mismatches and their implications.
Problem-based learning through group work will be a key component of the course, and there are expected to be extensive opportunities for debate and interaction. PhD students may consider the course topics in the context of their own research after consultation with the responsible teacher (Matt Robson), if that is likely to be of particular benefit and students can make suggestions of topics for the forum.

Prerequisite knowledge
A small body of prerequisite reading will be set directly related to all the course topics, this will allow students to attain a similar level of understanding prior to the course so as to maximise the usefulness of the lectures. To ensure that students are primed for the course students will have a workshop on the 15th September prior to the lectures, followed by a quiz to help reinforce this learning. Students who fail the quiz will be set extra work.

Preliminary Program
Friday 15th September - workshop: students will work in groups familiarising themselves with the themes of the course
Monday 18th September: Alan Jones – Researching plant ecology in different biomes in the content of climate change; changes at the plant community level
Tuesday 19th September: Delphine Grivet – Researching plant adaptation to climate change; changes at the genome level.
Wednesday 20th September: Otmar Urban – Environmental manipulation to test future climate change scenarios; changes in plant ecophysiological responses and in the phenotype.
Thursday 21st September: Marta Benito – Modelling species ranges under climate change scenarios. How to include adaptation and plasticity across a hierarchy of scales including the population level.

Marta Benito-Garzon, INRA, French National Centre for Scientific Research, France
Delphine Grivet, INIA Forest Research Centre, Madrid, Spain
Alan Jones, Earthwatch and Environmental Change Institute, UK
Otmar Urban, CzechGlobe - Global Change Research Institute, Czech Republic

More information is given on the course Moodle page.

Registration is open via an online form (closing date 1st September 2017 at 23:59 EEST).
The course is intended for PhD students.
The number of participants is limited to 20 and a motivation statement should be given when registering, covering, (1) the student’s principle interest in the course, (2) what perquisite knowledge they have of the four main topics, (3) what the student hopes to get from the course.
Students should also state their preferred focal topic from the four themes covered by the course.

3 ECTS will be awarded for full attendance during the course (five full days). Students will prepare small individual project presentations under the supervision of one of the invited speakers during the course. They will also be expected to participate fully in the end-of-session discussions every day (a.m. and p.m.), and give one presentation during the course.

The course is organised by Matt Robson and the Doctoral Programme in Plant Sciences (DPPS).