Ecological applications of biomarkers in aquatic food web studies

The growing demand for a sustainable use of aquatic resources has stimulated research interest in untangling the functional relationships between aquatic organisms, including interactions at the basis of food webs. Knowledge of these (trophic) interactions is a prerequisite to understand and to protect the carrying capacity of aquatic ecosystems. This course will train students in the theoretical concepts and practical application of biomarkers (fatty acids, stable isotopes) to trace the flow of energy in aquatic food webs.


Objectives of the course

This course aims to provide advanced knowledge on the use of stable isotopes and fatty acids as tracers in ecological research. More specifically, next to theory on the up-to-date techniques, analysing and implementing biomarker and tracer data in food web modelling will be included in the training.


Target Audience

  • PhD students with research interest in ecology, physiology, biochemistry, aquaculture, microbiology, bio-energy.
  • The course is open for beginners as well, cfr theory in the first days of the programme.
  • As the number of participants is limited, please express your interest by completing the registration form no later than 30 November 2023Participants will be informed on their selection by email around 15 December 2023.

Disclaimer: the course will take place with a minimum of 12 participants.



January 22, 23, 24, 25 and 26, 2024



  • UGent Doctoral Students: FREE
  • Others: 350 euros



Apply no later than 30 November 2023 using the online form: Registration 

In case of too many applications the following criteria will be used to rank the applications:

  • motivation to attend
  • link to ongoing research topic(s)
  • R skills (minimum required basic skills)
  • English language skills (minimum good)

UGent strives for inclusion and diversity: application from minorities is recommended and the organizers will aim at a balanced participation between UGent and non-UGent participants.


Learning outcomes

  • Understand the chemical background of stable isotopes and fatty acids and their relevance in biological functioning
  • Have a critical insight in the use of biomarkers to answer specific ecological research questions
  • Have an overview of the methodology applied to use stable isotopes and fatty acids
  • be able to analyse biomarker data (data analysis) and interpret it in a critical way
  • be able to translate biomarker data into (foodweb) ecological results



Marine Training

Ghent University, Department Biology, Research group Marine Biology
Campus Sterre, Krijgslaan 281/S8
9000 Gent