BIOL424-21S2 (C) Semester Two 2021

Community Ecology

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


To develop skills in the critique of literature and formulation and testing of hypotheses within the field of community ecology.

The aim of this course is to investigate fundamental aspects of community ecology—the study of interactions between two or more species and their environment.  The course will be of value to anyone interested in biodiversity, global environmental change, and ecological theory.  Major themes include food web ecology, metacommunities, determinants of community structure, community assembly, species interactions in diverse assemblages, and threats to biodiversity.

Given the strong conceptual basis of the course material, we will often present topics via a mix of both theoretical (modelling) and empirical research when possible. Although a strong background in mathematics isn’t required, we do expect that you will make an earnest effort to dissect equations and models and be able to explain what they show in plain English.

Recommended preparatory course(s): BIOL377, BIOL378 or BIOL375

Learning Outcomes

  • As a student in this course, I will learn the following skills:
  • Understand the interplay between theoretical and empirical approaches to community ecology.
  • Link an understanding of the structure and function of diverse assemblages with the fundamental ecological theories that underpin this structure.
  • Be able to critically review scientific literature, including theoretical studies.
  • Develop the intellectual freedom to think critically about scientific issues.
  • Understand the keys to formulating a research question.
  • Be able to synthesise, using evidence and reasoning, a key ecological concept from basic principles.

    Transferable Skills Register
    As a student in this course, I will develop the following skills:
  • Performing original research. From the outside, undertaking original research can appear straightforward but the reality is anything but. By conducting a research project, the student will understand the ins and outs of research—including its pitfalls—in a direct fashion, better preparing them for the challenges ahead in a work environment.
  • Critically reviewing and synthesising information. In everyday life and in many job situations you will be required to read information from different sources, construct your own understanding and shape your own viewpoint. In tutorials, we will discuss recent research papers in a group environment and this will develop your abilities to identify the essential elements of research outputs and to build upon them in your own project.
  • Written and verbal communication. Clear written communication is essential for most professional careers, and communicating verbally to a range of audiences is also critical in any area of endeavour.


Subject to approval of the Head of School.



Timetable 2021

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Tuesday 12:00 - 13:00 Ernest Rutherford 225
19 Jul - 25 Jul
Tutorial A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Tuesday 12:00 - 14:00 Ernest Rutherford 225
26 Jul - 29 Aug
13 Sep - 19 Sep

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Mads Thomsen


Jason Tylianakis , Jonathan Tonkin and Daniel Stouffer

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,066.00

* Fees include New Zealand GST and do not include any programme level discount or additional course related expenses.

For further information see School of Biological Sciences.

All BIOL424 Occurrences

  • BIOL424-21S2 (C) Semester Two 2021