BIOL275-21S1 (C) Semester One 2021

Field Ecology

15 points

Details:
Start Date: Monday, 22 February 2021
End Date: Sunday, 27 June 2021
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 7 March 2021
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 14 May 2021

Description

This course provides a fundamental grounding in the practical skills used in ecology, the study of relationships between organisms and their environment. It is designed to add to the co-requisite course BIOL274 Principles of Ecology (to form the equivalent of the 30-pt BIOL270 Ecology) if students want to advance to 300-level ecology courses. There is a particular emphasis on the problems and issues affecting natural systems, and how ecological knowledge can be applied to achieve solutions. The focus of the course is a four-day field trip to the UC Cass field station near Arthur’s Pass National Park. Combined with laboratory sessions prior to cultivate basic skills, the field course allows students to develop expertise in field experimental design and sampling, data analysis and interpretation, as well as providing practical experience in some wonderful high country environments. We will also recognise taongo species and consider appropriate Maori protocols (tikanga) for sampling in the field and the need for consultation. Overall, this course provides both a comprehensive platform for those wanting to undertake more advanced ecological study. The combination of BIOL274 and BIOL275 is a prerequisite for all ecology core courses that 300-level, and for students intending to progress to postgraduate level in ecology.

To undertake all aspects of the course, students will need to have a reasonable level of fitness that allows them to travel over steep untracked forest and grassland, and have footwear and clothing that allows them to undertake field work safely in a mountain environment. Participation in the field course also involves a three-night stay at the Cass field station in bunkroom accommodation similar to a backcountry hut and with catered meals. This involves relatively close quarters living, limited internet access, working in groups, and pitching in to help with chores. We can cater for most dietary requirements, but please contact the course technician if your dietary requirements are particularly specialised. It is essential that students disclose health-related issues that might affect their safe participation in this course, via the field participant form filled in prior to the trip. Please contact the laboratory and field trip co-ordinator (Kim Doherty) if you have any questions about any of these aspects of the course.

The combination of BIOL274 and BIOL275 is a prerequisite for all ecology core courses that 300-
level, and for students intending to progress to postgraduate level in ecology. It is assumed students will be taking, or have taken, BIOL274 as co-requisite or a pre-requisite. It will also be helpful if students are developing statistical skills to underpin data analysis undertaken on this course. For example, we generally expect you have taken STAT101 (or equivalent) in your first year, and expect you will likely be taking a 200 level data analysis course (BIOL209, GEOG205, or GEOG208). If this is not the case, then discuss this with the course coordinator.

Field Trip

We will run four-day trips to the UC Cass Field Station near Arthur's Pass National Park in the mid
semester break. You pick ONE of the trips. Importantly, by the end of Week 2 you will need to book your preference for one of the trips in the CIS. Then, you will need to complete the operational requirements, including health and safety forms, on the course Learn site by end of week 4 to attend the field trip. Note that the field trip is compulsory and provides the source of 95% of the assessment for this course.
Trip dates are:

either Trip 1: Tue 13-Fri 16 April 2021
or Trip 2: Fri 16-Mon 19 April 2021

To participate in the field trip students will need to have a level of fitness that allows travel over
untracked forest and grassland, and have footwear and clothing that allows field work to be
undertaken safely in a mountain (wet and cold) environment. If either of these aspects will pose a
problem for you, please contact the field trip organiser, Kim Doherty, as soon as possible. Also see
other notes in the Course Description above about what the field course entails.

Learning Outcomes

As a student in this course, I will develop the ability to:
1. Conduct field work safely (assessment: pre-field course operational requirements quiz, field trip
gear check, and attending the field course).
Related Graduate Attributes and Kaupapa: Critically competent in the core academic discipline, Employable, innovative and enterprising.

2. Develop and implement field sampling protocols including plant & animal field identification, and undertake basic data analysis and interpretation (assessment: field trip short and long reports).
Related Graduate Attributes and Kaupapa: Critically competent in the core academic discipline, Employable, innovative and enterprising.

3. Synthesize scientific literature to provide appropriate background, context and interpretation for a field study in ecology (assessment: field trip long report).
Related Graduate Attributes and Kaupapa: Critically competent in the core academic discipline, Employable, innovative and enterprising. Globally aware.

4. Analyse and present the results of an ecological field study in the format of a scientific paper
(assessment: field trip long report).
Related Graduate Attributes and Kaupapa: Critically competent in the core academic discipline, Employable, innovative and enterprising.

5. Apply an understanding of biculturalism in Aotearoa New Zealand as it applies to native species as taonga and responsibilities to Treaty obligations during fieldwork. In reports we will expect native species to be referred to by both their scientific and Māori names, and for the interactions of findings with Māori knowledge be discussed where appropriate (assessment: pre-field trip operational requirements quiz, mihi, field trip long report).
Related Graduate Attributes and Kaupapa: Biculturally Competent and Confident (kaupapa 1,3,4,6,7), Employable, innovative and enterprising.

Pūkenga Ngaio | Transferable Skills

As a student in this course, I will develop the following skills:
 Conducting safe field work. A health & safety plan is prepared for our field work which
involves identifying, and eliminating, mitigating or minimizing hazards. All students must
complete a three-step procedure, including a quiz, to be able to attend the field course. GP2

 Formation of hypotheses & explanations. Developing explanations for patterns and
observations is important to developing an understanding of principle concepts. We will
encourage this through discussions and feedback sessions on the field course. GP1

 Collecting useful quantitative data to test hypotheses including: experimental design and
hypothesis formation; field sampling protocols for estimating cover, species abundance and
community composition; plant and animal identification (including the use of keys); and data
organization and manipulation in spreadsheets. We will conduct two smaller field sampling
exercises in the labs to build skills for four more sophisticated field studies that will be
undertaken on the field course. These four field investigations provide both the real-world
context for lectures and develop hands-on practical skills, and will involve sampling both plant
and animal communities in the Canterbury high country. GP1,2 & 4

 Basic data analysis and interpretation (t-test, chi-square test, regression and ordination).
Important for research, as well as in all private-sector and government organizations to ensure
rigour in findings. These will be introduced in the laboratory sessions and will be applied to the
field data collected on the field course and used in both short and long report write-ups. GP2

 Writing a report in the format of a short report & a scientific paper. Clear written
communication is especially important in ecology where a main goal is to influence the
management of natural resources and ecosystems. One laboratory will be devoted to developing
scientific reading and writing skills, and the components required in the long reports will be
listed in a marking schedule in the field course handbook. Writing for specific audiences is
important. GP 2

*GP1, GP2, etc, refer to Graduate Profile attributes: (1) Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their degree; (2)
employable, innovative and enterprising; (3) biculturally competent and confident; (4) engaged with the community; and (5)
globally aware.

University Graduate Attributes

This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

Employable, innovative and enterprising

Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.

Restrictions

BIOL270

Co-requisites

Timetable 2021

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Computer Lab A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 13:00 - 16:00 Jack Erskine 248 Computer Lab
22 Mar - 28 Mar
10 May - 16 May
02 Monday 13:00 - 16:00 Jack Erskine 248 Computer Lab
22 Mar - 28 Mar
10 May - 16 May
Field Trip A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Tuesday 09:00 - 17:00 Cass
12 Apr - 18 Apr
02 Friday 09:00 - 17:00 Cass
12 Apr - 18 Apr
03 Monday 09:00 - 17:00 Cass
19 Apr - 25 Apr
04 Thursday 09:00 - 17:00 Cass
19 Apr - 25 Apr
Tutorial A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 13:00 - 16:00 Rehua 103 Project Workshop
15 Mar - 21 Mar
02 Monday 13:00 - 16:00 F1 Lectorial
15 Mar - 21 Mar
Tutorial B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Monday 13:00 - 14:00 Rehua 427 Technology Workshop
3 May - 9 May
02 Tuesday 15:00 - 16:00 Rehua 427 Technology Workshop
3 May - 9 May
03 Wednesday 11:00 - 12:00 Ernest Rutherford 141
3 May - 9 May

Timetable Note

Feedback from Course Surveys
On a 1-5 scale where 1 = worst and 5 = best (last surveyed in 2018 as part of the BIOL 270 course) Standard questions 2018, (n=53, 84%)

Q1 - The materials provided helped me to understand what was required to succeed in this course.   4.5
Q2 - The organisation of this course helped me learn.   4.5
Q3 - I found the workload was appropriate to the level of the course.   4.3
Q4 - I found the assessments appropriate for the course.   4.4
Q5 - Where I sought feedback on my assessments, I found it helpful.   4.3

The following issues and comments (with number of students) were raised feedback by students at the 2018 end-of-course survey and some surveys prior. Actions or responses indicated in CAPITALS.

1. Feedback on short reports useful for long reports & tutorials helpful for long report write-up
(3) WE ASSESS YOUR REPORT ON-LINE, SO PLEASE USE THIS FEEDBACK AND THE TUTORIAL AS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO DISCUSS ASPECTS OF THE LONG REPORT WRITE UP. ONE STUDENT SAID IN THE FEEDBACK: short reports were given back before the long report due date which helped us improve them and our writing skills in general.

2. Field trip was great: good see how things worked in the real world, getting to know class,
practical exercises useful, enjoyable, hands-on (many students). THANKS, THAT’S JUST WHAT WE HOPED!

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Angus McIntosh

Lecturers

Matthew Turnbull and Dave Kelly

Lab Technician

Kim Doherty

Assessment

Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Short field trip reports 20%
Mihi pepeha 5%
Pre-field course operational requirements quiz 19 Mar 2021 5%
Major field trip report 21 May 2021 70%

Textbooks / Resources

Recommended Reading

Begon, Michael , Townsend, Colin R., Howarth, Robert Warren; Essentials of ecology; 4th edition; John Wiley & Son, 2014.

Dawson, John , Lucas, Rob; Nature guide to the New Zealand forest; Godwit, 2000.

Smith, T. M. , Smith, Leo Robert; Elements of ecology; 9th edition; Pearson, 2015.

Additional Course Outline Information

Late submission of work

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $945.00

International fee $4,938.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see School of Biological Sciences.

All BIOL275 Occurrences

  • BIOL275-21S1 (C) Semester One 2021