NS5205: Biogeography

Please note this module descriptor is indicative of the structure of this course and may be subject to change.

NS5205: Biogeography

Module Title Biogeography
Module Code NS5205
Module Tutor Mark O'Connell
School School of Natural and Social Sciences
CAT Points 15
Level of Study 5
Brief Description

Biogeography is the study of where species are located in the biosphere (and often more importantly where they are not) and why these patterns have emerged: a question which appears deceptively straightforward but is actually extremely complex. This module is concerned with geography of biodiversity and seeks to explain why particular plants and animals are located where they are throughout the world. We consider the processes of speciation, evolution, species dispersal and fragmentation of populations, ranging from plate tectonics to climatic gradients and the influence of humans. This module is useful preparation for students wishing to take NS6206 Palaeoecology.

Indicative Syllabus

This module addresses issues of population dynamics, landscape processes such as plate tectonics, dispersion, migration, and species translocation. We will be looking at past processes to try to explain current patterns of species distribution. Thus this course is about identifying the 'what' and then explaining the 'why'. Biographic patterns and processes are investigated at global, national and local scales, and in both terrestrial and aquatic environments.

Learning Outcomes

A student passing this module should be able to:

1. Appreciate the variety of processes which can be responsible for species distributions at global, regional, landscape and island scales

2. Understand the relative importance of processes of speciation, extinction, dispersal, and ecological succession in explaining biogeographical patterns

3. Recognise the role of humans in modifying plant and animal distributions, with a specific understanding of the issues surrounding alien species introductions

4. Appreciate how knowledge from the past can inform future predictions of biogeographic change, while realising the limitations of this approach

5. Define a suitably-focussed research question to review individually and synthesise information from a range of sources including academic journals

Learning and Teaching Activities Scheduled Contact Hours: 36
Independent Learning Hours: 114
Assessment (For further details see the Module Guide) 001: 50% Coursework: Individual, standard written: 2000 words or equivalent
002: 50% Written Exam: End of module, unseen, closed book: 1.00 hours
Special Assessment Requirements
Indicative Resources The current reading list can be found in the Module Guide, which your lecturer should make available via Moodle.

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