Water bodies are fundamental features of the landscape. Whether they are rivers, canals, wetlands, ponds, lakes, estuaries or the open coast, they are important habitats that support diverse ecological communities.

These water bodies are intimately tied to the surrounding terrestrial environment, and have their own internal processes and patterns, created by the interaction of the hydrological, morphological and biological attributes, which determine the ecological features evident at different scales within the aquatic landscape. Understanding the links and the causes and consequences of changes that occur spatially and through time both naturally and through human activity are fundamental to an integrated approach to aquatic ecology.

This short course specifically considers the basis for understanding how the landscape and the aquatic system interact. It covers topics related to ecological processes, species distribution and community structure, function and how they can change and it provides the necessary understanding of the appropriate methods to quantify aquatic ecological attributes which have become of central importance to environmental management of water bodies.

At a glance

Course structure

This course is delivered via a mixture of online lectures, workshops and practical sessions.

What you will learn

On successful completion of this course you should be able to:

  • Explain the key elements of aquatic ecosystems in the landscape,
  • Describe the linkage between biological, chemical and hydro-morphological attributes of a water body,
  • Discuss the ecological and hydromorphological processes that determine the ecological status of a water body,
  • Explain how aquatic related organism occurrence, distribution and movement are determined by the aquatic landscape,
  • Compare methods to determine ecological attributes and construct a monitoring plan relevant to the location, species and spatial temporal scale of investigation.

Core content

  • Fundamentals of lentic (still water) and lotic (running water) ecosystems,
  • Aquatic ecosystem elements within the landscape (e.g. rivers, lakes, floodplains, estuaries and coastal zones),
  • Spatial and temporal scale in aquatic systems,
  • Energy movement through the ecosystem (e.g. food web and trophic dynamics),
  • Methods to quantify aquatic systems and their attributes (e.g. river hydromorphology; lake community structure),
  • How humans influence lentic and lotic ecosystems,
  • Field sampling techniques and design of survey/monitoring programmes for aquatic ecosystem status.


You can book a single course or any combination of the courses offered in Water Management May in the same year, and benefit from discounts.

  • One course: £500
  • Two courses: (£450 per course)
  • Three+ courses: (£350 per course)

Read our Professional development (CPD) booking conditions.