NS6206: Palaeoecology

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

NS6206: Palaeoecology

Module Title Palaeoecology
Module Code NS6206
Module Tutor Louise Best
School School of Natural and Social Sciences
CAT Points 15
Level of Study 6
Brief Description

The module aims (i) to introduce students to the discipline of palaeoecology (ii) to distinguish its characteristics and practice from contemporary ecology; (iii) to acquaint students with a range of approaches and techniques for reconstructing past environments; (iv) by means of specific examples, to attempt reconstruction of past environments; (v) to discuss particular palaeoenvironmental events in more detail and to draw conclusions as to their relevance for contemporary environmental debates. This module provides an opportunity for students to be introduced to the theory and practice of palaeoecology - the science of reconstructing past environments using ecological data. The module puts current concerns such as acid rain, species extinctions, and global warming in context. This module builds on concepts covered in NS5205 Biogeography and complements those covered in NS6302 Climate Change.

Indicative Syllabus

This module takes students to research frontiers in the discipline and practice of Quaternary Palaeoecology. Students first learn the scientific approaches to palaeoecology (and how they differ from practice in ecology); a range of palaeo-ecological techniques is then introduced.The module involves the reconstruction of past environments from the period in which mammoths died out, ice sheets waxed and waned, and humans came to have significant impact upon vegetation and environment. It includes studies in applied palaeoecology focusing on current concerns such as pollution and acid rain, and species and habitatconservation.

Learning Outcomes

1. Understand the reasons for differences in practice between palaeoecological and ecological investigation and demonstrate awareness of the limitations of palaeoecological data and interpretations

2. Critically discuss the need for precision and accuracy in scientific study

3. Demonstrate familiarity with a range of approaches and techniques for reconstructing past environments

4. Show awareness of the relevance of palaeoecological studies for contemporary environmental issues

5. Demonstrate skills of data interpretation, developed through discussions concerned with particular palaeoecological 'events'

6. Undertake critical analysis of concepts and ideas in palaeoecology and demonstrate an ability to apply understanding to contemporary issues such as 'Acid Rain' and 'Global Warming'

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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