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Information for module BIOL0014

This module is available for 2020/21

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Module code:BIOL0014 (Add to my personalised list)
Title:Fundamentals of Ecology
Credit value:15
Division:Division of Biosciences
Module organiser (provisional):Dr David Murrell
Organiser's location:Biological Sciences
Available for students in Year(s):2
Module prerequisites:No prerequisites are required. Students without any biological background will need to do a little outside reading for certain parts of the course. Enthusiasm is the most important criterion. The module does involve some mathematics, and computing, but will assume a high school level of understanding of mathematics. Understanding of the models/theory is important to gain understanding of the key processes in ecology, but all exam questions are essay-based. Suggested reading material: Ecology : from individuals to ecosystems. Michael Begon, Colin R. Townsend, John L. Harper. - 4th ed.  
Module outline:Ecology is the study of the factors affecting the distribution and abundance of individuals and species in the natural environment. It is also one of the most quantitative areas of biology. Estimating species abundances when the entire population is sampled; estimating whether or not a species has gone (or is going) extinct; predicting the future abundance and distribution of a species due to climate change -these are all examples of questions which require a combination of mathematics, statistics and data. This module will scale up from individuals, to populations, then to communities and onto ecosystems, and will be taught using a combination of theory and case studies from the scientific literature. Topics covered in detail 1. Population dynamics -density independence 2. Population dynamics of age-structured populations 3. Population dynamics and density dependence 4. The principles of competitive exclusion, coexistence, and founder control 5. The dynamics of predator-prey and host-parasite communities 6. Spatial structure at the individual scale: consequences for competition. 7. Spatial structure at the regional scale: Metapopulations and the importance of habitat fragmentation, dispersal and landscape structure. 8. Food webs: properties, stability and ecosystem services 9. Macro-ecological patterns: the latitudinal gradient of biodiversity; species area curves and diversity indices There will be three computer practicals: 1. Population regulation and age-structure (an Excel-based practical that will involve comparing a discrete time model to data) 2. Stability and instability of host-parasitoid communities (an Excel-based practical that will consider the Nicholson-Bailey and Hassell-Varley models for host-parasitoid communities) 3. Using spatial statistics to infer ecological processes (an R-based practical)  
Module aims:1. To introduce the problems tackled in ecology, from populations through to communities and ecosystems. 2. To outline techniques used in observing and investigating natural populations and communities, and some of the solutions and principles of ecology derived from these studies. 3. To develop the ability to analyze ecological data, construct basic models in ecology, and relate ecological principles to applied problems in population and community management. 
Module objectives:To recognize, and develop understanding of, the patterns found in the natural environment, in terms of the spatial and temporal distribution of the number of particular species, and in a community context, diversity. To be able to link the principles of ecological to applied problems of harvesting and conservation. Specifically, the module aims to address the following questions: (1) What determines the abundance and distribution of species? (2) How can so many, or so few species coexist within a small geographical area? (3) What causes some populations to oscillate? (4) What are the effects of habitat fragmentation on populations and communities? (5) Are more diverse ecological communities more robust? (6) How many species might I find within a certain area? (7) How can I compare the diversity in one location with the biological diversity found in another location? 
Key skills provided by module:Elementary modelling via simulation on EXCEL. Data and statistical analysis using EXCEL and R. Synthesis of material from disparate sources into a report. Independent learning. 
Module timetable: 
Module assessment:

UG FHEQ Level 5

  • Standard assessment pattern:
    • Practical write up (3 equally weighted practical reports) 10.00%
    • Essay (one 2000 word essay chosen from a short list of offered questions) 20.00%
    • Unseen two-hour written examination 70.00%
Taking this module as an option?: 
Link to virtual learning environment (registered students only) 
Last updated:2018-07-30 18:58:27 by ucbtksr