Ecosystem Ecology

University of Cape Town

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Ecosystem Ecology

  • Host University

    University of Cape Town

  • Location

    Cape Town, South Africa

  • Area of Study


  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Prerequisites

    Course entry requirements: BIO2010F

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Host University Units

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Course outline:
    This course focuses on terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems, especially of Africa. Lectures take place mainly on a field camp where there is ample opportunity for practicals and individual projects. Typical practicals concern the distribution and impact of small mammals and large herbivores, succession between fynbos and forest, the role of soil water on ecosystem attributes and freshwater vlei and river dynamics. The course begins with an introduction to ecosystem ecology and the role of abiotic factors (such as nutrients, fire and water) and biotic factors (such as predation). The issue of scale, both spatial (from metres to kilometres) and temporal (for days to millennia) is considered as is the issue of scaling and scaling-up in ecosystem ecology. Trophic ecology, the causes and consequences of the elimination of predators is discussed, with examples from Africa. Besides developing field work skills in ecosystem ecology, students will also develop modelling skills including simple demographic and succession models. Finally, the dynamics, management and conservation of Africa's terrestrial and freshwater resources are studied.

Course Disclaimer

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.


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