NS7911: Practical Ecological Methods


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

NS7911: Practical Ecological Methods

Module Title Practical Ecological Methods
Module Code NS7911
Module Tutor Mark O'Connell
School School of Natural and Social Sciences
CAT Points 30
Level of Study 7
Brief Description

This module provides an opportunity to develop some of the practical skills that form an integral part of applied ecology. Students will learn techniques for mapping habitats and vegetation, as well as a range of methods for surveying different faunal taxonomic groups (invertebrates, mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians). The module will also cover the fundamental principles of biological survey design, data collection, analysis and modelling.

Indicative Syllabus

This module will have a practical focus, with theoretical sessions supported a substantial element of fieldwork, laboratory work and workshop activities. Students will learn how to design and implement biological surveys to collect appropriate and meaningful data. This will include consideration of sample strategy, census methods and biological indices. These principles will then be applied to surveying plants, vertebrates and invertebrates to collect data on species presence and abundance using industry-standard techniques and protocols. Improving species identification will be a key focus and students will gain experience in using biological keys. Habitat classification and use of indicator species and biological proxies will also be covered. Students will also be taught how to manipulate, analyse and model field data.

Learning Outcomes

A student passing this module should be able to: 1. Describe and apply a range of methods used to survey different habitats and taxonomic groups; as well as being able to critically discuss the relative advantages, disadvantages and potential biases of each 2. Demonstrate an advanced level of accuracy in identifying species in specific taxonomic groups using biological keys 3. Design a suitable survey protocol to collect appropriate ecological data to answer a specific brief 4. Manipulate, analyse and model field data to draw meaningful conclusions about ecological condition and species trends at a given site

Learning and Teaching Activities

Scheduled Contact Hours: 60 Independent Learning Hours: 240

Assessment (For further details see the Module Guide) 001: 30% Practical Exam: Display, Show or Performance: 2 hours
002: 70% Coursework: Individual, standard written: 4000 words or equivalent
Special Assessment Requirements None
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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