Master's in Ecology


Brief study outline

The study takes two years divided into four semesters. During this time, students must obtain 120 ECTS credits. Work on master thesis (incl. presentation of your research on two seminars) accounts for 56 credits, 40 credits must be acquired from the core courses and the remaining 24 credits from core or additional courses. A master thesis based on a research project must be submitted and defended at a committee of lecturers. A committee also evaluates student's knowledge at a final state exam composed of three parts: Fundamentals of Ecology, a field of student's choice (Plant ecology, Animal Ecology or Ecological statistics) and Theoretical background of the master thesis topic and methodology.

There is effectively no tuition fee but a small fee for study in foreign language 500 CZK (aprox. 20 EUR) per year (the study at public Czech universities is for free). The funding options are summarized in the section for students, official information can be found at the main faculty website.


General information

The admission procedure follows the Decision of the Dean. Below is a list of the most important points.

Eligible applicants are to hold a Bachelor's degree based on at least 3-year university study of any field. Delivery of a certified copy of the degree is required after admission interviews (early delivery speeds up the visa process). In the first round of the admission procedure, the admission committee evaluates the motivational letters. Shortlisted candidates are invited for the second round based on an on-line interview. We will evaluate:

  • scope of ecological knowledge,
  • relevance of research interests, experience, and plans,
  • ability to communicate in English at a level sufficient for the study.


You can apply by submitting:

  • application: on-line form with your personal data
  • motivational letter: introduce yourself, your previous experience in ecology, and describe your Bachelor’s (or similar) research project, on up to one A4 page. The form of the letter is not specified.
  • application fee: 500 CZK (approx. 20 EUR or 22 USD)

The University does not require any other documents at the time of application, but your Bachelor's certificate is required later for admission.

e-application Submit your application on-line .

The e-application includes payment of the application fee by card. Alternatively, you can pay the application fee by bank transfer:
Account number: 104725778/0300
IBAN: CZ20 0300 0000 0001 0472 5778
Variable symbol: 6020106
Specific symbol: the number of the electronic application form generated by the electronic registration system
Payment note: full name

Important dates:

New students are admitted twice a year in the following schedule:

Application procedure opens February 2022 July 2022
Deadline for application 18 May 2022 31 October 2022
On-line interview 1-2 weeks after application deadline
Decision on admission 1-2 weeks after interviews
Deadline for delivery of Bachelor's certificate 30 July 2022 3 February 2023
Start of study (see student's section) September 2022 February 2023

The dates for next academic year are announced in January. Before the update is done, you can expect similar dates as in last year.

Certification of Bachelor's degree

You are to submit a certified hardcopy of your Bachelor's diploma which is to be recognized by our Vice-dean for Bachelor and Master Studies. The types of diplomas/certificates and legal requirements differ widely between countries. It is therefore recommended to send us (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) in advance just a scan of your documents and we will inform you about what is required from you. There are various levels of document authentication and translation to Czech or English may be required in some cases.

Although we do not require your Bachelor's certificate for application, it is required for admission. Before your certificate is received, the University cannot issue the official letter of admission and consequently you cannot apply for visa. Therefore, we strongly recommend sending us your certificate as soon as possible (even before admission) to avoid unnecessary delay.

International administration - visa

In addition to the requirements of the University, you will need to undergo a standard migration procedure depending on the country of your origin before arrival (visa, health insurance...). A comprehensive summary of the requirements can be found here. Note that obtaining student visa takes months in most countries. You can make the process faster by:

  • applying in advance for all documents required by the consulate
  • posting us in advance your Bachelor's degree certificate
  • applying for Student Facilitation Programme (via University)

Student Facilitation Programme ("Režim Student" in Czech) enables priority arrangement of a meeting at the consulate, so that you do not wait long to submit your application (you get a date within two weeks). However, you must have originals of all necessary documents gathered already. This implies, that before applying for the Student regime, you must send us the authenticated copy of you Bachelors degree, and after receiving, we will send you back the letter of acceptance as well as the accommodation contract. Note that posting the documents takes several weeks.

Since 11 April 2022, the operation of Czech consulates should not be limited due to covid.

Additional information

See the students' section for more information on the enrollment, further course of the study, fees, scholarships etc.

Applicants from some countries can also apply for a scholarship of Czech Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. This scholarship is out of our control, see detailed information on the ministry website or contact Czech consulate in your country.


Faculty of Science offers increasing number of courses in English. Below is a list of courses included in the Master in Ecology. Students must acquire at least 40 credits* from the core courses. The list of additional courses is continuously growing.

Core courses

Design and Analysis of Ecological Experiments

phee-courselecturers: Jan Lepš, Petr Šmilauer
content: You will learn the basics of experimental design (emphasizing field experiments and including various nested designs) and mainly their statistical evaluation using general linear models, methods of unconstrained and constrained ordination (with Canoco), and classification methods. You will learn all this using real-world data examples.
credits: 6
links: home

Community Ecology

commecol-courselecturers: Jan Lepš, Vojtěch Novotný
content: The course includes basics of community diversity research: quantifying and interpreting community diversity, relationships of community diversity with other characteristics, i.e. both diversity as response to environmental factor, and as a driver in biodiversity experiments. Further topics include community assembly rules, mechanism of species coexistence, food web research, use of the null models. It is usually preceded by a field data collecting trip.
credits: 6
links: home

Functional Traits in Ecology

traits-courselecturers: Lars Götzenberger, Francesco de Bello
content:The course aims to provide updated concepts and methodologies on the use of functional traits in Ecology, encompassing different trophic levels. Particular attention will be given to the use of species traits to understand ecological processes, such as niche partitioning, species interactions, community assembly and ecosystem processes, and as tools in bioindication schemes (including indication of ecosystem services).
credits: 4

Modern Regression Methods

mrm-courselecturer: Petr Šmilauer
content: This course introduces you to several important families of advanced regression models, with particular attention paid to generalized linear models (GLM), generalized additive models (GAM), classification and regression trees (CART), and survival analysis, together with the linear mixed-effect models or methods of phylogenetic corrections. Work with the real-world data takes about two thirds of the course, relying exclusively on the free R software.
credits: 6

Ecology of Invasive and Expansive Organisms

invasive-courselecturer: Karel Prach, Ondřej Mudrák
content: Main aspects of invasive behavior of alien and expansive native organisms, especially vascular plants, are explained. Theoretical principles of invasive ecology are accompanied by examples from central Europe as well as other parts of the World. Not only processes of invasion and expansion but also eradication of noxious organisms and restoration of native communities are considered.
credits: 4

Tropical Ecology

tropical-eco-courselecturer: Vojtěch Novotný
content: This course gives an introduction to main tropical ecosystems and further covers such themes as why there are so many species in the tropics, how they are organized in food webs, how is ecological succession going, what is happening on tropical islands, or why and how to protect tropical biodiversity. The course includes also seminars where we discuss and analyze important and interesting research papers.
credits: 4

Conservation Biology

conservbio-courselecturer: Jana Jersáková, Tomáš Kučera, Martin Konvička
content: This course focuses on up-to-date theory, practice and ethics of biological conservation from the level of genes, to wild populations and to entire ecosystems. The course includes several excursions to outstanding protected areas and semestral work developing an action plan for a critically endangered species.
credits: 6

Evolutionary Ecology

lecturer: David Boukal
content: The course gives an overview of the main concepts and classic methods used to study life histories and behavioral and other evolutionary adaptations of organisms to their environment. Emphasis is given on case studies that establish links between theory and empirical observations. The course also involves critical reading and discussion of both classical and recent papers and hands-on practicals with quantitative examples.
credits: 6

Field Ecology

field-ecology-courselecturers: Jan Lepš, Petr Blažek
content: The course gives an overview of the problematics to be faced when developing ecological surveys and experiments in the field. Several excursions will be carried out during one week, where various sampling techniques will be used, and student will carry out simple field experiments in different habitats around either Mohelno or Křivoklát. At the end, students present results of their independent projects.
credits: 4

Molecular Ecology

lecturer: Václav Hypša
content: The course provides an overview of current approaches to utilizing molecular data in ecological, phylogenetic and evolutionary research. It covers the main techniques used at the genealogical and population level (haplotype networks, multilocus analyses, coalesence-based inferences of demography, selection and other evolutionary processes) and the basic principles of molecular phylogenetics (maximum parsimony, maximum likelihood, Bayesian probability).
credits: 4

Creative Publishing in Community Ecology

creativepub-courselecturers: Jan Lepš, Francesco de Bello, Lars Götzenberger, Jan Hrček
content: This course aims at publishing one paper in collaboration with other students, with the aim of showing how to creatively choose and use data to answer possible ecological questions. Field data will be available and students, as a group, will choose how to use the data, analyze it and prepare a manuscript for publication. The process will be assisted by a former editor of J. App. Ecol. and J. Veg. Science and by a current editor of PLoS One and J. Veg. Science.
credits: 6

Population Ecology

populecol-courselecturer: Jan Lepš, Petr Blažek
content: The course provides basis of population ecology, attempting balanced presentation of methods of the field research, basics of mechanisms, and mathematical models. The topics include descriptive approaches to populations size, structure, spatial pattern and temporal variability, basics of population growth (including projection matrices and integral projection models) and basics of interspecific interactions.
credits: 5

Vegetation Dynamics

vegetdyn-courselecturer: Karel Prach
content: Principles of vegetation dynamics from the population to global perspective are presented. Theoretical aspects are illustrated by real examples from different parts of the World. Practical applications in conservation biology and restoration ecology are also presented.
credits: 3

Tutorials in Ecology

lecturer: Jan Hrček
content: A course designed to improve critical thinking through working with literature, writing essays and discussing them with tutors (a panel of lecturers and postdoctoral researchers at Faculty of Science and Biology Centre). The course is modelled after Tutorials, a common way to teach at Oxford and Cambridge.
credits: 4

Science Communication

sciencecommunicationlecturer: Kateřina Sam
content: Communicate your research from the field to a conference hall and to a scientific journal.
This course will prepare you for common types of communication you will need (not only) in science. Giving presentations, but also preparing an experiment, proposal or write a grant (and possibly get it!). Other forms include letter to editor when submitting your research to a journal and advise on outreach and communicating your research to the public.
credits: 4

Plant-Animal Interactions

plantanim-courselecturer: Jana Jersáková, Lukáš Čížek, Štěpán Janeček
content: The course familiarizes students with the current literature, mechanisms, and conceptual bases of herbivory, pollination, seed dispersal, and plant defense, and provides understanding and practice to the scientific methods during field experience. The course includes a field trip where the students perform their own projects.
credits: 6

Evolutionary Biology

evolbiol-courselecturer: Pavel Duda
content: This course provides and introduction to evolutionary biology. It describes key evolutionary processes, both micro- and macroevolutionary. It describes the relationship between micro- and macroevolution, evolution and ontogeny, and evolution and phylogeny and emphasizes the importance of phylogenetic approach in biology and ecology using a multitude of case studies.
credits: 3

Microbial Ecology and Genomics

microbialecology-courselecturer: Eva Nováková
content: This course provides the students with a combination of theoretical background and practical skills in modern approaches of microbial ecology. With emphasis on symbiosis, the students will learn how to sequence, analyze and understand the functions of bacterial genomes and the structure of bacterial communities in various environments.
credits: 3

Molecular Phylogenetics

lecturer: Václav Hypša
content: The course provides an overview of basic techniques and data types in various areas of phylogenetic inference.
credits: 6


lecturer: Petr Čapek, Hana Šantrůčková
content: An overview of biogeochemical processes on local, continental or global scales, both in natural conditions and under human impact. The course will make students familiar with cycling of major elements in preindustrial periods in the Earth crust, waters, atmosphere and soil and compare them with present and future situations modified and magnified by human activities.
credits: 2

Additional courses

Biology of Social Insects

lecturers: Petr Klimeš, Jan Šobotník, Jakub Straka
content: The course provides survey of the basic phenomena related to organization of insect societies; particularly: evolution of eusocial taxa, origination of social behaviour, ontogeny, communication, ecological and economical importance of social insects. The lecture includes overview of the most important aspects of life of social insects and place them into the evolutionary and functional context. The main taxonomic focus is on the biology, evolution and ecology of termites, bees and ants.

Biodiversity and Macroecology

lecturer: David Storch
content: An introduction to the major concepts concerning macroscopic patterns and processes in biology. Following topics are considered: (1) landscape dynamics and population dynamics in a heterogeneous landscape, (2) macroecological patterns related to species abundance and distribution, (3) species diversity, and (4) large-scale time variability of populations, taxa and communities.

Restoration Ecology

lecturer: Karel Prach


lecturer: Petr Blažek
content: Introduction to the basic principles of statistical thinking. Special emphasis is put on practical use of statistical analyses for data processing in R. The students should be able to process their own data for bachelor theses.

Advanced Regression Methods

lecturer: Petr Šmilauer

Ecology Seminar

content: Lectures of invited researchers from other universities, usually foreign ones.

Behavioral Ecology

lecturer: Petr Veselý

Advances in Behavioral Ecology

lecturer: Petr Veselý
content: A journal club

Open Source GIS

lecturer: Stanislav Grill

content: The course aims to extend the analytical skills of students in the processing of environmental spatial data. The topics within course are not focusing on theory of spatial ecology but mostly on practical tasks of data processing in free open-source GIS software. An important aspect of the course is the selection of the software which is freely available and/or have open source code.

Fungal Ecology

lecturer: Martina Vašutová

Field Mycology

lecturer: Martina Vašutová

Biology of Animals

lecturer: Oldřich Nedvěd
content: A basic course of zoology, designed for students specialized on other fields of biology, taught in two parts: The first, common part explains phylogeny and adaptations of main animal lineages. The second part is taught separately, focused either on ecology, biogeography and conservation, or on comparative approach to general zoology and an evolutionary approach to the experimental model species of animals.

Biology of Plants

lecturer: Jan Kučera
content: A basic course of botany, designed for students specialized on other fields of biology, taught in two parts: The first, common part explains phylogeny and adaptations of main plant lineages. The second part is taught separately, focused either on ecology, biogeography and conservation, or on plant anatomy, morphology, physiology and development.

Studying Plants and Fungi Belowground

lecturers: Marie Šmilauerová, Petr Šmilauer
content: You will learn the essential skills for investigating the life of plants and symbiotic fungi in the soil. The methods will cover e.g. root biomass quantification, root morphology and architecture, or observing AM fungal symbionts.

Forest Ecology

lecturers: Jiří Doležal, Jan Altman, Lukáš Čížek
content: Basic structures and functions of forest ecosystems, examples of main forest types in temperate and boreal zone in Northern hemisphere.

Ecology of Alpine Ecosystems

lecturers: Jiří Doležal
content: Fundamentals of ecology of mountains, principal groups of algae and plants there, selected localities as examples of stands, principles of adaptation to extreme conditions.

Molecular Methods in Plant Science

lecturers: Petr Koutecký, Jiří Košnar
content: Presentation of methods of molecular biology used to infer genetic variation of plants, especially at lower taxonomic levels (genus, species, populations); the main research objectives include population genetics, microevolutionary processes, phylogeography. Selected methods will be practices in the laboratory.

Practicals of Multivariate Analysis of Ecological data

lecturers: Jan Lepš, Petr Šmilauer

Modelling for Ecologists in R

lecturer: David Boukal

Language courses

You can enroll in several English-taught language courses to improve your language skills:

  • Master English (native speaker)
  • Master English - Academic Writing (native speaker)
  • Master English - TOEFL Preparation Course NS (native speaker)
  • English for Science
  • English for Workplace
  • English for TOEIC
  • Academic Writing for Crossboarder Studies

Join our fieldtrips

Field Ecology

mohelno-excursionA one-week trip to Mohleno (SE Czechia) or Křivoklát (W Czechia) offers students to learn basic field-sampling methods. Since the excursion takes place just before the start of the winter semester (mid-September), we recommend this for you to meet your new course mates.

Polar Ecology

polar-excursionThe course of Polar Ecology includes a field trip to Svalbard.
This excursion takes place every year. Follow the news on faculty website not to miss the application deadline.

Tropical Ecology

papua-excursionThe course of Tropical Ecology is supplemented by a field trip to Papua New Guinea. The expedition includes trips to all basic types of natural environment in PNG: diving on coral reefs, working at a research station in a lowland rainforest, canoe rides in mangrove swamps, climbing through misty forests up to the top of Mt. Wilhelm, 4500 meters a.s.l., visiting a volcano island or dancing decorated with war paint and feather headdresses with indigenous people.
The excursion takes place once in two years, so only some of you would have a chance to take part.

Biomes of Europe

biomes-excursionA bus tour to distant parts of Europe visits European biomes. Destinations of past years: Bulgaria (2022), Spain (2019), Poland and Ukraine (2018), Greece (2017), France (2016), Spain (2015), Serbia (2014), Scandinavia (2013), Romania (2012)...

Czech vegetation

geobot-excursionThe four-day bus excursion is focused on presentation of main vegetation types over the Czech Republic. Geological, historical and cultural phenomena are also presented in mutual interactions with the vegetation pattern and dynamics.

Alpine Botany

Several other courses include a field trip within the course (e.g. Community Ecology, Population Ecology, Plant-Animal Interactions)


Guarantor of the Master's study programme

Jan Lepš

My main interest is plant ecology, with major projects connected with mechanisms of species coexistence and stability in temperate grasslands, but I also work in tropical forest ecology. Further, I am interested in data analysis, and particularly in the multivariate data analysis.
Functional plant ecology


Vojtěch Novotný

A tropical ecologist studying plant-insect food webs in the rainforests of Papua New Guinea (and teaching about them in Europe).
Laboratory of Tropical Ecology

Karel Prach

prach-peopleAuthor of various publications in restoration ecology, vegetation ecology and ecology of invasive organisms. He has especially studied vegetation succession in various human-disturbed as well as naturally disturbed sites in the Czech Republic and in various parts of the world.

Petr Šmilauer

petrsmMy research interests cover multivariate statistical methods, modern regression modelling, and the ecology of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in grassland ecosystems.

Francesco de Bello

debelloAuthor of various publications on functional trait diversity. He is trained as a plant ecologist and agronomist. Using meadows and alpine vegetation as a study framework, he assesses the role of functional trait diversity on the interface between community assembly and ecosystem service delivery. His interests also include the effects of land-use changes on vegetation, and particularly grazing and mowing, and the development of integrated biodiversity indicator systems to monitor the effects of these changes in interaction with climate change.
Functional plant ecology

David Boukal

boukal-peopleMy research focuses on ecological and evolutionary processes in aquatic habitats. The lab uses a combination of lab and field experiments and mathematical modelling to understand and predict the impacts of environmental stressors on individual life histories, trophic interactions and community structuring. Our main emphasis is on freshwater invertebrates in standing waters but we also work with fish.

Václav Hypša

Molecular phylogeny and evolution of insect-associated bacteria, co-evolutionary studies in host-parasite systems, molecular phylogenetics in the evolutionary studies of parasitic groups.

Jan Hrček

hrcekMy research interests are community ecology, symbiosis and evolutionary ecology. In my lab we experimentally address stability of communities, their response to global change and invasions. We use a model system based on wild Drosophila communities which allows us to link laboratory and field research. I have close ties with University of Oxford where I am research associate.
lab webpage

Kateřina Sam

sam-peopleMy main interests are interactions between trophic levels, predation and community ecology. I work along large environmental gradients (latitude, altitude) but also locally. I focus on birds, bats, ans and spiders as focal predators, and I study their impact on arthropod communities
Laboratory of Multitrophic Interactions

Lars Götzenberger

goetzenberger-peopleI study plant community ecology through species traits and phylogenetic relationships. The main focus is on how traits and phylogeny imprint on species ecological strategies, and how this influences the assembly and stability of communities. From a technical site, I have a keen interest in R programming and ecological data bases.

Jana Jersáková

jersa-peopleMy main interest is plant ecology, focusing particularly on ecological aspects of life-strategies of terrestrial orchids, and factors affecting plant distribution, such as dependence on specific mycorrhizal fungi and specialized pollinators.

Pavel Duda

duda-peopleI am a zoologist specializing in human evolution. My research topics include evolution of primate behavior, human population history, and evolution of culture using a broad spectrum of phylogenetic comparative methods.

Eva Nováková

novakova-peopleI am generally interested in bacterial symbioses of blood sucking vectors. My research focuses on evolution, function and dynamics of various forms of symbioses from loosely associated bacteria in complex microbiomes to obligate mutualists with extremely reduced genomes.

Hana Šantrůčková

hasan-peopleSoil biology and biochemistry, nutrient transformation, stable isotopes in ecological studies.

Petr Blažek

I study plant ecology in grasslands. My main focus covers population ecology of hemiparasitic plants, but I participate in several other research projects and I want to move the results of research closer to farm practice.

I am in charge of communication with applicants in this study programme.


Large part of your study (almost half the credits) is formed by work on a research project, results of which will be reported in a Master Thesis and possibly published in a renowned scientific journal.

You can do your thesis project with any principal investigator at Faculty of Science or Biology Centre CAS (even when not listed on this page). Below are a few thesis themes proposed by some of the possible advisors, but the options are much wider. You can contact the supervisor to ask for more details or other possibilities. We also encourage you to come with your own idea!

  • Predator vs. parasitoids - no enemy-free space for caterpillars?
  • Multitrophic interactions between spiders, birds and plants
  • Stress responses of insect to presence of birds and the impact of insect's stress on lower trophic levels
    supervisor: Kateřina Sam
  • Aquatic life in post-industrial environments
  • Urban environments and the heat island effect in aquatic invertebrates
  • Impact of microplastic pollution on individual life histories and trophic interactions in aquatic invertebrates
    supervisor: David Boukal
  • Trophic specialization of herbivore insects in forest food webs
  • Succession trends in plant-herbivore food webs
    supervisor: Vojtěch Novotný
  • Restoration of urban areas (e.g. biodiversity of flower strips)
  • Successional changes of vegetation in disturbed sites (post-mining sites, grasslands, post-military areas etc)
  • Effect of large herbivores on vegetation development
    supervisors: Karel Prach, Klára Řehounková, Ondřej Mudrák
  • What role play the non-mycorrhizal plant species in the structure and maintenance of the community of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi?
  • Change of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal communities in model grassland plant species during their ontogeny
    supervisor: Marie Šmilauerová
  • Meadow hemiparasites as ecosystem engineers
  • Ecological benefits and economic sustainability of organic farming.
    supervisors: Jan Lepš, Petr Blažek
  • Coexistence of grassland plant species depending on their functional and phylogenetic dissimilarity
  • Floral traits in community assembly
    supervisors: Francesco de Bello, Lars Götzenberger
  • How does species loss affect the extinction risk of the remaining species?
  • Do multitrophic communities respond similarly to shifts in mean temperature and variability of temperatures?
  • How can we use species’ traits as proxies to predict trophic interaction strength?
    supervisor: Jan Hrček


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