BIOL375-21S2 (C) Semester Two 2021

Freshwater Ecosystems

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 19 July 2021
End Date: Sunday, 14 November 2021
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 1 August 2021
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 1 October 2021


Advanced theories and concepts of freshwater ecology and their practical application to current issues.

This course provides a thorough grounding in the ecology of freshwater ecosystems, including lakes wetlands and rivers. It covers the most important concepts that underpin our understanding of these ecosystems, but given the imperilled plight of fresh waters around the world, there is a heavy emphasis on practical applications for solving current problems. A highlight of the course is a residential field course based at the University’s Cass field station and visiting the West Coast. The field course hones practical skills in association with quantitative state-of-the-environment monitoring and team-based project work. Laboratory sessions prior to the trip develop basic physical and chemical sampling procedures, as well as macroinvertebrate identification, and are complemented by fish sampling and investigation of the wide range of aquatic systems. Moreover, by combining this practical expertise with detailed knowledge of how freshwater ecosystems work and the main approaches to managing them, students will be well placed for a diverse range of careers connected to freshwater ecosystems and the resources they provide.

Learning Outcomes

  • As a student in this course, I will develop the ability to:
  • Understand current topics in freshwater ecology and their application to management of freshwater ecosystems locally, nationally and internationally (assessment: on-line quizzes) GP1, 2 & 5
  • Understand through experience the characteristics of freshwater ecosystems, the threats they face and the connections of people, including Māori, with those ecosystems. (discussions on field trip) GP3 & 4
  • Develop practical skills including species identification, experimental design, data analysis (assessment: identifications & interpretations; Research report) GP1 & 2
  • Improve scientific communication skills, including report writing and use of the literature (assessment: Research report, non-assessed: field trip oral presentation) GP 1 & 2
  • Conduct field work safely (field trip preparation and conducting field work for Research report) GP 2

    Transferable Skills / Pūkenga Ngaio
    As a student in this course, I will develop the following skills:
  • Discovery, synthesis and interpretation of information. Combining information from lectures, course readings, the literature, and field trip in discussions on the field trip and course assessment. GP2
  • Formation of hypotheses and explanations in the development of a research project. The field trip will include discussions to develop hypotheses that can be tested in the field trip research. GP2
  • Conducting safe field work in hazardous outdoor environments. Before the field trip a health & safety discussion will occur focusing on identifying, eliminating, mitigating or minimizing hazards. GP2
  • Knowledge of field sampling protocols for freshwaters, conducting water quality testing, and identification of benthic invertebrates and fish. We will carry out a range of exercises to illustrate useful field methods; the field trip will assess identification skills. GP1&2
  • Data analysis and interpretation. Initial analysis of data will occur on the field trip, and appropriate further analysis methods discussed for use in field trip reports.GP1&2
  • Writing a report in scientific format using text and graphs. Initial discussion on the field trip, and sessions about style, good graph design will be conducted. GP2
  • Be aware of the nature of multiple cultures in Aotearoa New Zealand as it applies to freshwater native species as taonga and mahinga kia. We will discuss the concept of taonga species and Māori perspectives on mahinga kia (freshwater food). GP3.
    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.


BIOL209 and either (1) BIOL270 or (2) BIOL274 and BIOL275

Timetable Note

Field Trip
It is yet to be decided if there will be one or two field courses – we need to see how many students enroll. If one, it will be Mon 30 August till Friday 3 September or if numbers require two field course options, they will be either Saturday 28 August till Wednesday 1 September or Tuesday 31 August till Saturday 4 September.  These will be primarily at the Cass field station, but also including an overnight trip to the West Coast. You will be advised of more field trip details, including the exact field trip dates, early in the course but please keep these dates clear. You also won’t be able to allocate to a field course in the timetable until the third week of the semester.

There will be two field course options, either Saturday 28 August till Wednesday 1 September or Tuesday 31 August till Saturday 4 September, primarily at the Cass field station, but also including an overnight trip to the West Coast. You will be advised of more field trip details (what to bring and health & safety requirements) early in the course.

The field trip is compulsory and is a major in-term assessment. To attend the field course you need to be capable of safely carrying out physical activities in the outdoors including walking in riverbeds and steep slopes, and we will be living in bunkroom style accommodation at the Cass Field Station with group-catered food.

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Angus McIntosh


Jonathan Tonkin and Helen Warburton

Lab Technician

Linda Morris


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Online quizzes 40% 4 on-line quizzes – inc. multiple choice & short answer questions. Due after each section of course.
Practical test 17 Sep 2021 30% Due online by 5pm
Research report 24 Sep 2021 30% On field trip research project.

Feedback from Course Surveys
(No surveys in 2016-17)
Questions                                                                            2012   2014   2015
1. This was a well organized course                                  4.6      4.8      4.4
2. This helped to stimulate my interest in this subject   4.6      4.8      4.7
3. The overall course workload                                           4.0      4.6      4.6
4. The level of difficulty                                                         4.7
5. I received helpful feedback                                              4.3      4.7      4.3
6. Assessment measured my learning                               4.0      4.3      4.1
7. Overall course quality                                                       4.7      4.9      4.7
The following issues were raised in written feedback in 2015 (brackets indicate the number of responses).

Which aspects of the course were most helpful in your learning?

Relevance, engagement & real-world situations (3)
Field trip (3)
Online quizzes helpful (1)

How else could this course be enhanced?
Not enough time in final test (2). Response: We’ve reduced the size.

Textbooks / Resources

Recommended Reading

Harding, Jon S. , New Zealand Hydrological Society., New Zealand Limnological Society; Freshwaters of New Zealand ; New Zealand Hydrological Society ; New Zealand Limnological Society, 2004.

Jellyman, Phillip G. et al; Advances in New Zealand freshwater science ; [Updated edition]; New Zealand Hydrological Society : New Zealand Limnological Society, 2016.

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

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,090.00

International fee $5,083.00

* 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 BIOL375 Occurrences

  • BIOL375-21S2 (C) Semester Two 2021