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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 TripWe will run four-day trips to the UC Cass Field Station near Arthur's Pass National Park in the midsemester 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 2021or Trip 2: Fri 16-Mon 19 April 2021To participate in the field trip students will need to have a level of fitness that allows travel overuntracked forest and grassland, and have footwear and clothing that allows field work to beundertaken safely in a mountain (wet and cold) environment. If either of these aspects will pose aproblem for you, please contact the field trip organiser, Kim Doherty, as soon as possible. Also seeother notes in the Course Description above about what the field course entails.
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 tripgear 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 SkillsAs 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 whichinvolves identifying, and eliminating, mitigating or minimizing hazards. All students mustcomplete a three-step procedure, including a quiz, to be able to attend the field course. GP2 Formation of hypotheses & explanations. Developing explanations for patterns andobservations is important to developing an understanding of principle concepts. We willencourage this through discussions and feedback sessions on the field course. GP1 Collecting useful quantitative data to test hypotheses including: experimental design andhypothesis formation; field sampling protocols for estimating cover, species abundance andcommunity composition; plant and animal identification (including the use of keys); and dataorganization and manipulation in spreadsheets. We will conduct two smaller field samplingexercises in the labs to build skills for four more sophisticated field studies that will beundertaken on the field course. These four field investigations provide both the real-worldcontext for lectures and develop hands-on practical skills, and will involve sampling both plantand 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 ensurerigour in findings. These will be introduced in the laboratory sessions and will be applied to thefield 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 writtencommunication is especially important in ecology where a main goal is to influence themanagement of natural resources and ecosystems. One laboratory will be devoted to developingscientific reading and writing skills, and the components required in the long reports will belisted in a marking schedule in the field course handbook. Writing for specific audiences isimportant. 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.
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.
Students must attend one activity from each section.
Feedback from Course SurveysOn 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. 4.5Q2 - The organisation of this course helped me learn. 4.5Q3 - I found the workload was appropriate to the level of the course. 4.3Q4 - I found the assessments appropriate for the course. 4.4Q5 - Where I sought feedback on my assessments, I found it helpful. 4.3The 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!
and Dave Kelly
Begon, Michael , Townsend, Colin R., Howarth, Robert Warren;
Essentials of ecology;
John Wiley & Son, 2014.
Dawson, John , Lucas, Rob;
Nature guide to the New Zealand forest;
Smith, T. M. , Smith, Leo Robert;
Elements of ecology;
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.