University of Barcelona

Information for the student – Biodiversity


Seaweed - Master of Biodiversity - Faculty of Biology - University of Barcelona

 Welcome to the degree's site.


This master's degree offers two possible specializations:

  • Evolutionary Biology. This specialization is designed for future researchers in the field of biodiversity, providing the knowledge and tools needed to reconstruct evolutionary relationships and population histories from genus and species to community and to use this information to draw inferences about the origin and maintenance of biodiversity, the processes of evolution, adaptation and diversification, and the relationship between organisms and the environment.

  • Conservation Biology and Biodiversity Management. This specialization is designed for future researchers and managers of natural heritage, providing knowledge and tools that address the mechanisms regulating biodiversity, its course and evolution; to assess human impact and to manage and evaluate biodiversity.
Master courses

Academic year 2023-2034


Compulsory module: Foundations for Biodiversity


Biodiversity Assessment (3 ECTS)

Coordinador Joan Ll. Pretus (send email)

Biodiversity neologism appears on the academic and social scene to recognize and address the planetary crisis of increasing local and global extinctions. It is an inclusive concept that covers all biodiversity scales. The course shows the different methodological approaches to understanding, defining and measuring these diversity scales, along with their indicators, tools to assess the risks associated with the over-exploitation and destruction of natural habitats and the rapid climate change of the Earth.


The tree of life (6 ECTS)

Coordinator Miquel A. Arnedo (send email)

Even since Darwin, we recognize that life on Earth originated once and that all organisms, either extant or extinct, are interconnected by an ancestor-descendant relationship. These relationships can be graphically displayed as a Tree, the Tree of Life, which nodes and terminals represent species and branches reflect their evolutionary history. In this class, we will provide an overview of the diversity of the Tree of Life and discuss alternative hypotheses about the origin and diversification of its main lineages.


Biodiversity data management and analysis (6 ECTS)

Coordinador Francesc Oliva (send email)

Computer science applied to biodiversity has revolutionized access to data and the biological information in general. It is about applying Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to collect, manage and analyze (especially using multivariate analysis techniques) information about biological biodiversity. This emerging area allows us to make available the data and the biological information at the level of specimens, species and ecosystems. This also lets us to integrate them with abiotic information (for example, precipitation and temperature) in order to generate essential information and knowledge in scientific work and decision making.



Specialization module: Evolutionary Biology


Genes and genome evolution (6 ECTS)

Coordinador Julio Rozas (send email)

The comparative study of DNA and protein sequences generates knowledge of the mechanisms of evolutionary change, which is the basis of many tools used in phylogenetic, biogeographic and population genetic studies. In this subject we study the fundamentals of how molecules evolve in living beings (nucleic acids and proteins), and their applicability in the evolutionary inference, including fundamental aspects such as detecting the hallmark left by natural selection both purifying and adaptive in these molecules.


Phylogeny and Phylogeography: methods and applications (6 ECTS)

Coordinador Marta Riutort (send email)

In this course we will provide the knowledge and tools needed to reconstruct the Tree of Life using the information avilable in the genomes of organisms, and to interpret it correctly to understand the processes that generate it. In theoretical and practical classes we will teach you how to study genetic diversity and how you can delimit species, carry out biogeographic analyses, dating, test evolutionary hypotheses, analyze the evolution of characters and the rates of evolutionary diversification and innovation.


Evolutionary behavioral mechanisms and community assembly (6 ECTS)

Coordinador Laura Baldo (send email)

The complex interactions that exist among living organisms are responsible of the current patterns of species diversity, abundance and distribution. The course approaches the study of interactions at both population and community levels, from the evolution of animal behavior and cognitive capacities (ex. migration dynamics) to the theory of community assembling in time and space, exploring both structural and functional mechanisms.



Specialization module: Conservation Biology and Biodiversity Management


Conservation biology (6 ECTS)

Coordinador Alex Aguilar (send email)

The course "Conservation Biology" approaches, from different perspectives, concepts and problems related to the conservation of biodiversity. It is divided into three parts: 1) Conservation on a global scale (includes a practical part of reservation design; MARXAN software), 2) Importance of animal behavior in conservation, the role of Zoos in conservation and animal welfare standards (with a “ 5 minutes talk ”as a small subject work), and 3) Man-nature conflict and conservation strategies (with debates and group work).


Wildlife management (6 ECTS)

Coordinador Toni Hernandez (send email)

This course covers the scientific, technical and legal basis for wildlife management, both animals and plants, from a Mediterranean perspective. We cover a broad diveristy of topics, from the conservation status assessement to the regulation of international trade, the writing and implementation of recovery plans and the management of invasive species.


Biodiversity and ecosystem function and services (6 ECTS)

Coordinador Marisol Felip (send email)

The relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning is a classic topic in ecology, which is essential to understand the effects that biodiversity loss may have on the ecosystem services that result from it. The course shows the connections between the functional characteristics of organisms, their responses to external factors, and how these organisms modulate the functioning of ecosystems and the benefits or harms that human societies derive from them. The classes are divided into three blocks that correspond to different learning approaches and objectives: conceptual-theoretical, numerical tools and case studies.



Optional course module: Advances in Biodiversity


Please, bear in mind that the courses of the Specialization Module not chosen are also included among the optional courses, regardless of the specialization selected.
Functional adaptations of animals (3 ECTS)

Coordinador Joan Ramon Torrella Guio(send email)

Functional adaptations of animals are changes that improve their survival, thus contributing to the survival of the species as a whole. The changes in the morphological characteristics and functional capacities of animals lie at the heart of evolution, intertwined by history and by the context where they are happening. In this course we will deal with: the adaptive value of changes in structures and the evolutionary process that links them to the integrated function; the costs and benefits; the limitations they present, and how they contribute to animal biodiversity.


Agrobiology (3 ECTS)

Coordinador Xavier Sans (send email)

In the face of the current biodiversity crisis, it is necessary to develop agroecosystem management models that harmonize production and conservation of natural resources to ensure their sustainability. This course will deepen our understanding of the ecological elements and processes that govern the function of these systems, in order to make proposals that will increase biodiversity and improve the abiotic conditions that benefit positive interactions, nutrient recycling, regulation of pests, stability and resilience.


Population viability analysis (3 ECTS)

Coordinador Joan Ll. Riera (send email)

Species conservation needs increasingly sophisticated tools to assess the viability (persistence) of threatened populations. In this course, we study the application of demographic models to time series and structured populations (e.g. by age or size), with an emphasis on practical case study analysis. These tools, which we develop with the R language, can be used, among other things, to estimate extinction probability, to determine the sensitivity of growth rates to vital rates (e.g., fertility or survival), and to evaluate environmental change or population management scenarios.


Evolutionary biology of vertebrates (6 ECTS) - Attention, this subject will not be available for course 2022-23

Coordinador Alberto Maceda (send email)

This course focuses on the following topics: evolutionary radiation of the different vertebrate groups; techniques more frequently used in the field and the lab; data analysis and interpretation of results in a conceptual framework under the starting hypotheses put forward in each case. The main objective is that students interpret, discuss and evaluate alternative options that integrate the knowledge of different fields of study in vertebrate biology and ecology.


River ecosystems: biodiversity sampling and analysis techniques  (3 ECTS)

Coordinador Daniel von Schiller(enviar correo)

The biodiversity of river ecosystems is in a state of crisis because of decades of intense pollution, water diversion and damming and widespread introduction of exotic species. Consequently, the species inhabiting rivers are even more endangered than those on land. This eminently practical course will provide: (i) an overview of the local and global patterns of river biodiversity, and (ii) a hands-on demonstration of techniques for sampling and analyzing the diversity of fish, macroinvertebrate and algal communities in rivers.


Effects of pollution on biodiversity (3 ECTS)

Coordinador Xon Borrell (send email)

Environmental pollution will be treated from different fields. On the one hand, the main chemical contaminants and their behaviour, in the environment and within organisms, and the effects on vertebrates will be described. Exercises will be carried out on particular cases of toxicity in sensitive species. On the other hand, organic pollution by urban wastewater will be considered as well as the use of bioindicators, emphasizing protozoa, through laboratory practices for the management of inland water quality and main processes of treatment of these waters.


Applied entomology (3 ECTS) - Attention, this subject will not be available for course 2022-23

Coordinador Marta Goula (send email)

Within the framework of the applied study of animal biodiversity one aspect of interest is the interaction of the most diverse organisms, arthropods, with humans, both from a taxonomic point of view and in the context of their impact on human societies (diseases, vectors, etc.). Part of the course will focus on model cases of species that are forest or agricultural pest. The other part will focus on arthropods that affect well-being and human health, both annoying (which cause phobias) and dangerous (poisonous, stinging, parasites or vectors).


Ethnobiology: Traditional use and management of Biodiversity (3 ECTS)

Coordinador Joan Vallès (enviar correu)

Ethnobiology studies the relationships between human societies and biodiversity (traditional knowledge of names, uses and management of living organisms and ecosystems by human groups). In this matter linked, among other aspects, to citizen science, ethnobotany, ethnomycology, ethnozoology and ethnoecology are relevant. Multidisciplinary approach to the biodiversity, it constitutes its fourth pillar, together with its genetic, taxonomic and ecological bases. This theoretical and practical subject provides 1) the theoretical bases of ethnobiology and its subdisciplines in order to make know their foundations, development, and state-of-art in the world and in our area, and 2) an introduction to the working methods in ethnobiology, complete enough to make the students able to initiate a scientific research.


Conservation Genetics; (3 ECTS)

Coordinador Carles Carreras (send email)

The aim of the course is for the student to gain knowledge of basic conservation genetics for the detection and study of threatened species, and the design of appropriate conservation programs for species. Specifically, you will learn how to analyze genetic variability in natural populations, identify colonization routes for invasive species, and interpret the genetic aspects that condition conservation strategies in wild, captive and introduced populations.


Population Genetics (3 ECTS) - Attention, this subject will not be available for course 2022-23

Coordinador Marta Pascual (send email)

Population genetics is an evolutionary biology discipline that studies the composition and genetic changes of populations and species over time, as well as the responsible evolutionary forces. In this subject, we review the effect of genetic drift, natural selection, mutation and migration on allelic frequencies in populations, and discuss its implications in the maintenance or loss of the genetic variation, and in the genetics of speciation.


Comparative Genomics (3 ECTS)

Coordinador Alex Sánchez (enviar correu)

High-throughput sequencing technologies have profoundly changed our understanding of genome biology and evolution. Now it is possible to obtain and compare the complete genome sequence of virtually any member of the tree of life, providing new and relevant knowledge not only for the study of Biodiversity in earth but also with deep implications in other central areas of Biology, such as genetics and biomedical research. This subject combines theoretical and practical lessons, supported by powerful bioinformatics tools, to offer and integrative view of the conceptual foundations of comparative genomics, from how to obtain genome sequences to the identification and study of the origin, evolution and function of their main components.


Introduction to R for Biodiversity Analyses (3 ECTS)

Coordinador Jose Manuel Blanco (send email)

A fundamental part of both the researcher and the manager’s jobs is to make sense of data to provide solid answers and consistent management proposals. R, due to its flexibility, being free and its wide community of user-developers, has become the benchmark software for many of the management, analysis and graphical display fo data. This course aims to provide a practical introduction to the program and its language, without resorting on cookbooks, to facilitate its understanding and its application in a broad context of biodiversity data.


GIS in biodiversity analysis and representation (3 ECTS)

Coordinador Jordi Carreras (send email)

In this practical subject (will be done entirely in the computer classroom) we will deal with the management of the spatial component of vegetation (plant communities, habitats). GIS are programs that allow digital maps to be treated like databases. We will cover the main ArcGis modules (ArcMap, ArcCatalog and ArcToolBox). Approximately 45 exercises will be proposed based on our own original data related to environmental issues (mainly vegetation) and we will solve them during the classes. It is intended that in the end the student can raise and solve a simple environmental problem through GIS.


Methods and techniques in plant systematics and evolution (3 ECTS)

Coordinador Maria Bosch (send email)

In order to study and classify the extant plant biodiversity, and in particular seed plants, it is necessary to know a number of methodologies, techniques and/or resources, which are included within the biosystematics, which allow obtaining information on organisms from different perspectives. These include nomenclature and taxonomy, floristics, reproductive biology, cytogenetics or palynology, among others, of which the learning is offered in this subject, as well as its application to the resolution of particular cases. The course, in addition to the theoretical classes, includes laboratory practices (one of which is at the Scientific and Technological Centers of the UB), a computer practice, a field trip and a visit to the Center of Plant Biodiversity Documentation of the UB.


Field course on marine biodiversity (3 ECTS)

Coordinador Juan Moles (send email)

The variety and singularity of Mediterranean coastal ecosystems confer them high ecological value and considerable biological diversity. This course aims to provide students with tools to recognize the most representative marine species of the Costa Brava. This is an intensive, in the field course that also includes lab sessions.


Field course on terrestrial biodiversity at macroscale (3 ECTS)

Coordinador José M. Blanco (send email)

Biodiversity managers must have the ability to evaluate this natural heritage. Fieldwork to estimate and evaluate biodiversity in relation to the vegetation and vertebrate fauna is a key part of this ability. For three and a half days, we will work on the capacity to identify the most common species, as well as those of particular conservation interest, of vertebrates and vascular flora species, working different techniques of identification and sampling, as well as the interrelations that condition the species richness in the communities. This subject involves an extra cost of accommodation and maintenance.


Field course on terrestrial biodiversity at microscale (3 ECTS)

Coordinador Antonio Gomez Bolea (send email)

The main objective of this field course is to provide biodiversity student and managers with the abilities and tools to assess natural heritage. Given the special interest and importance of organisms such as algae, fungi, lichens, bryophytes, and the fauna of invertebrates in general and of arthropods in particular, this course is focused on these groups. The methodology is fundamentally practical and aims to teach how to recognize, evaluate and value the biodiversity of these organisms in different environments. During four days of field different techniques of sampling, identification and analysis of the richness and composition of the populations, as well as analysis of the interrelationships that determine the community structure in the different ecosystems, will be developed.


Trophic relationships (3 ECTS)

Coordinador Carola Sanpera (send email)

Feeding provides the energy needed for body maintenance, growth and reproduction and, ultimately, for the perpetuation of species. It therefore exerts a very important evolutionary pressure. Trophic relationship is the link that is established between the demand for energy and nutrients by organisms and the supply of resources from the environment. In this context, the study of diet is essential to the knowledge of this relationship. This course provides the conceptual basis of trophic relationships and offer a practical approach to the study of diet to answer fundamental questions about what animals eat and how they exploit their habitat.



Research module: Master's thesis


Master thesis (18 ECTS)

Coordinador Enric Batllori (send email)

"The final project is a research project, autonomous and individual of each student, which involves an integrative exercise of the training received during the master in the field of biodiversity. This exercise involves the application of knowledge, skills, attitudes and competences acquired throughout the degree, and its main purpose is to learn how to apply the scientific method by developing a working hypothesis. The result is a written report to be exposed and defended in public before a committee.