This course covers the interactions between plants and their terrestrial environment. This includes both the soil and the atmosphere, between which plants constitute a crucial link. The goal is to develop insight in the effect of environmental factors on plants, as well as in the influence of plants on their environment, both in current and future climate. The link between plants, soil microbiology, and biogeochemistry is an explicit focus. The following topics are part of the course content: plants and climate, photosynthesis and respiration, plant growth, productivity and carbon budget, plant-water relations including stomatal regulation and water balance, plants under stress (radiation, heat), uptake of mineral nutrients, nitrogen cycle, nutrient symbioses. The course takes as implicit the lower-level physiological and biochemical processes occurring within plants which are covered in ‘other courses, and instead focuses on the plant to ecosystem scale of the terrestrial biosphere.
Students will be trained in measuring the aforementioned processes in another course: Lab skills.