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Advanced concepts in population ecology, especially those most relevant to the New Zealand region and to the conservation of the New Zealand biota. Topics include life history tradeoffs, dispersal and metapopulations, species interactions, population regulation, population modelling, management of populations, and issues for species conservation in New Zealand.
To teach advanced principles of population ecology and practical ecology skills in a New Zealand context.This course covers population ecology (i.e. the study of single species, including their interactions with other species). We cover a range of current key topics, using NZ examples where possible, including:• What controls life history?• What limits spatial distribution?• What controls abundance, and are populations regulated?• How important are metapopulation dynamics?• How does ecological knowledge help in conserving rare species?We also emphasise practical skills with the field trip and in-term assessment focused on this. Additional reading of recent books and scientific papers is an essential complement to the lectures. Background in basic ecological principles is assumed. If at any stage you feel that you are missing some assumed background, see the reference materials listed below or talk to the lecturers.Note: BIOL371 (Evolutionary Ecology) is highly recommended as a complimentary 15 point course.
As a student in this course, I will develop the ability to:Understand current topics in population ecology and their application to conservation (assessment: final exam)Develop practical skills including species identification, experimental design, data analysis (assessment: field trip lab test; field trip short report)Improve scientific communication skills, especially report writing and use of the literature (assessment: field trip short report)Conduct field work safely (field trip preparation and conduct).Transferable Skills RegisterAs 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 in all course assessment.)Formation of hypotheses and explanations. (The field trip will include discussions of results as they come in, to develop hypotheses that can be expanded on in your short field trip report.)Conducting safe field work in hazardous outdoor environments. (You will be given forms before the field trip which you will use to identify, eliminate, mitigate or minimize hazards.)Knowledge of field sampling protocols for terrestrial ecology, and identification methods for plant and animal species. (We will carry out a range of exercises to illustrate useful field methods; the field trip lab test will assess identification skills.)Data analysis and interpretation. (Initial analysis of field trip data will be run on the trip, and appropriate further analysis methods discussed on site for you to use in your short reports.)Writing a report in scientific format using text and graphs. (Initial graphs will be discussed on the field trip, and you will be given information about style, good graph design etc for use in your short reports.)
BIOL209 and either (1) BIOL270 or(2) BIOL274 and BIOL275
Students must attend one activity from each section.
The course has lectures in only Term 1. There are no laboratories, instead there is a compulsoryfield trip in the mid-semester break, which leads to two tutorials in Term 2 then the field trip reportis due. Check the UC timetables for timetable and room allocations.The three-day field trip will teach practical skills in including identification, sampling, analysis andwriting. We will provide transport from Christchurch leaving 6:00 pm on Tues 6 April for twodays in the field in Kaikoura, returning to Christchurch evening of 8 April, with 9 April beinganalysis on the UC campus 9am-5pm. More details will be given in Term 1.Feedback from Course SurveysThe last course survey was in 2017.Standard questions 2017(n = 28, 88%)Q1 - The materials provided helped me to understand what was required tosucceed in this course. 4.5Q2 - The organisation of this course helped me learn. 4.4Q3 - I found the workload was appropriate to the level of the course. 4.5Q4 - I found the assessments appropriate for the course. 4.6Q5 - Where I sought feedback on my assessments, I found it helpful. 4.3Here are some detailed points raised in it, with our responses.1. There should be an option to sit the exam soon after the course work finishes as you forget most of the stuff by the time of midyear exams.R:This is not as simple as it seems. Only the lectures finish in Term 1. The field trip is in the April break, which produces data for the field trip writeup (20% of the assessment) with tutorials in the first two weeks of term 2 and the project due in the third week of Term 2. So the gap between finishing course work and the start of the exam break in June is only three weeks. Since there would be timetabling problems about finding a time to run an exam towards the end of Term 2, we have left the final exam in the June break. But we have introduced an online lecture test at end of Term 1 to get some of the lecture assessment out of the way while the material is still fresh.2. Fantastic field trip and array of investigations was very beneficial. The short report was a good test for writing skills in comparison to some other longer report writing in other courses.R:Thanks for the comment. The short report is very concise (900 words), to keep the workloadappropriate for a 15 point course, but note that you have to edit the text carefully to fit yourarguments into that short space. Allow some time for editing, and use the tutorials (see nextcomment).3. Tutorial sessions were really helpful for the report writing. In particular I found this particularly useful for help with the statistics.R:Glad that worked out, we put those tutorials in place (in response to earlier feedback), specifically to help with stats and writing in the report.
Instead of a textbook, we will make specific research articles available through Learn. For background, we recommend the current BIOL 270 text: Smith & Smith (2015) Elements of Ecology(9th edition) or the 2019 text for BIOL270, Begon, Howarth & Townsend (2014) Essentials ofecology 4th edition (copies in the UC libraries).
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Domestic fee $1,053.00
International fee $5,046.00
* 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.