Ecology

UTS

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Ecology

  • Host University

    UTS

  • Location

    Sydney, Australia

  • Area of Study

    Ecology

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Prerequisites

    91107 The Biosphere OR 91123 Biocomplexity

  • Course Level Recommendations

    Upper

    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

  • Credit Points

    6
  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
    4
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
    6
  • Overview

    Description
    Management and remediation of the vast array of environmental problems facing the globe require a rigorous, scientific understanding of how ecosystems work. In this subject, students are introduced to fundamental ecological principles underpinning the structure and function of ecosystems. Theoretical and empirical examples are provided using a broad cross-section of organisms (e.g. invertebrates and vertebrates) and ecosystems (e.g. aquatic and terrestrial) with a focus on the application of ecological knowledge to the conservation and management of biodiversity. Field work in several different systems (e.g. woodland vegetation, rocky shore habitat) during practical classes is compulsory. This subject is an important link to a range of third-year subjects that require a deep understanding of ecological concepts.
    Subject objectives
    Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:
    1. Appreciate ecology as a scientific discipline and understand the ecological principles that underpin the structure and function of ecosystems.
    2. Utilise the language of ecological science and describe ecological patterns and processes in the context of evolution by natural selection.
    3. Describe the flow of energy and matter through ecosystems, nutrient cycles and variation in climate and primary productivity.
    4. Relate the distribution, abundance and diversity of species to biotic/abiotic features of the environment at multiple spatial scales.
    5. Distinguish among methods for describing the ecological structure and function of animal and plant communities, define and contrast the different types of species interactions within communities and describe variation in life-history strategies among species.
    6. Use various techniques for field-based data collection and link statistical techniques to the analysis of ecological data.
    7. Apply fundamental ecological knowledge to the conservation of native biodiversity.
    This subject also contributes specifically to the development of following course intended learning outcomes:
    An understanding of the nature, practice and application of the chosen science discipline. (1.0)
    The ability to acquire, develop, employ and integrate a range of technical, practical and professional skills, in appropriate and ethical ways within a professional context, autonomously and collaboratively and across a range of disciplinary and professional areas, e.g. time management skills, personal organisation skills, teamwork skills, computing skills, laboratory skills, data handling, quantitative and graphical literacy skills. (3.0)
    The capacity to engage in reflection and learning beyond formal educational contexts that is based on the ability to make effective judgments about one's own work. The capacity to learn in and from new disciplines to enhance the application of scientific knowledge and skills in professional contexts. (4.0)
    An understanding of the different forms of communication - writing, reading, speaking, listening -, including visual and graphical, within science and beyond and the ability to apply these appropriately and effectively for different audiences. (6.0)
    Contribution to the development of graduate attributes
    Graduate attributes
    1. DISCIPLINARY KNOWLEDGE AND ITS APPROPRIATE APPLICATION
    Lectures provide students with important foundational information about the structure and function of ecosystems in an evolutionary context. This broad knowledge base covers ecological theory and practice in terrestrial and marine systems and encourages students to consider the continually-changing nature of the natural environment as a result of human activities. Students are assessed on their understanding of this foundational information in the final examination in a series of multiple-choice questions. Field trips in Ecology provide an arena for students to apply this disciplinary knowledge directly to real-world scenarios. Students gain hands-on field experience with a range of different plant and animal communities in the Sydney region, complementing the knowledge gained from lectures. Within-semester assessments based on the field trips and their accompanying laboratory practicals test the students? competency in analysing their field-collected data and interpreting the outcomes in an ecological and evolutionary context.
    3.PROFESSIONAL SKILLS AND THEIR APPROPRIATE APPLICATION
    Technical skills for ecological data collection and analysis are acquired continually throughout the semester and include: plant and animal sampling and surveys; bird and plant identification; the application of fundamental statistical techniques; data handling using both manual calculations and computer programs; and graphical literacy skills. Students pose a series of questions about specific environmental issues and collect and explore scientific evidence as part of a team in the field and laboratory practicals. Students are also directly advised of the OH&S issues related to working in field and laboratory situations and are encouraged to perform the required tasks safely and effectively. Students? grasp of the technical skills ? and their ability to evaluate and discuss their findings in a meaningful ecological context ? are assessed in within-semester assessments which require presentation of data, their analyses and interpretations of the emergent patterns. The assessments are feedback-based, allowing students to continually improve their understanding of fundamental ecological principles as well as to refine their scientific writing skills.
    4. THE ABILITY TO BE A LIFELONG LEARNER
    The intellectual and practical underpinnings of this subject can be applied by students to their surroundings and everyday life. Scientific theories continually shift as our understanding of the natural world deepens. This subject explores the changing and progressing nature of ecological theory over time, underscoring the importance of continued learning in the field of ecology. This subject promotes the ability to be a Lifelong Learner about the natural world with a continued desire to understand global ecosystem functioning and the impact of human activities on biodiversity.
    6. COMMUNICATION SKILLS
    Ecology has three written assessment tasks, set to a professional report-writing standard expected in many scientific careers. Written work is critiqued by staff and feedback is provided to allow students to develop further their communication skills. Students are also encouraged to seek and make use of ecological literature throughout the course. The Consultation Practicals are vital and provide students with the opportunity to interact with experienced ecologists and fellow students to discuss scientific methodology and theoretical ideas related to the course. All topics related to the field trips and laboratory practicals are explored with students on request.
    Teaching and learning strategies
    Ecology is presented as a 1.5-hr lecture and a 3-hr practical (involving either a field trip or laboratory work) each week of the semester. Lecture notes, practical notes and other relevant readings are posted on UTSOnline and students are expected to come to lectures and practicals having done all relevant reading.
    Content
    Students are introduced to the fundamental ecological principles underpinning the structure and function of ecosystems. Theoretical and empirical examples are provided using a broad cross-section of organisms and ecosystems to demonstrate unifying ecological themes. On completion of this subject, students will have begun to learn how to bridge the gap between disciplinary ecological knowledge from lectures and real-world conservation of biodiversity.
    Assessment
    Assessment task 1: Urban Ecology Report
    Intent:
    This assessment item addresses the subject objectives 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and the graduate attributes 1, 3, 4, 6 described above
    Objective(s):
    This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):
    1.0, 3.0, 4.0 and 6.0
    Weight: 15%
    Criteria:
    Correct answers to questions; numerical proficiency; critical thinking; acquisition of broad knowledge of subject material via reading outside the prescribed text; experimental design; data handling; statistical analysis; clarity of writing; appropriateness of presentation.
    Assessment task 2: Marine Ecology Report
    Intent:
    This assessment item addresses the subject objectives 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and the graduate attributes 1, 3, 4, 6 described above.
    Objective(s):
    This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):
    1.0, 3.0, 4.0 and 6.0
    Weight: 20%
    Criteria:
    Correct answers to questions; numerical proficiency; critical thinking; acquisition of broad knowledge of subject material via reading outside the prescribed text; experimental design; data handling; statistical analysis; clarity of writing; appropriateness of presentation.
    Assessment task 3: Plant Ecology Report
    Intent:
    This assessment item addresses the subject objectives 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and the graduate attributes 1, 3, 4, 6 described above.
    Objective(s):
    This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):
    1.0, 3.0, 4.0 and 6.0
    Weight: 30%
    Criteria:
    Correct answers to questions; numerical proficiency; critical thinking; acquisition of broad knowledge of subject material via reading outside the prescribed text; experimental design; data handling; statistical analysis; clarity of writing; appropriateness of presentation.
    Assessment task 4: Final Examination
    Intent:
    This assessment item addresses the subject objectives 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 and the graduate attributes 1, 3 described above.
    Objective(s):
    This assessment task contributes to the development of course intended learning outcome(s):
    1.0 and 3.0
    Weight: 35%
    Criteria:
    Correct answers to multiple-choice questions.
    Minimum requirements
    Students are expected to attend at least 80% of all lecture and practical classes. The field trip and laboratory practicals are compulsory. A within-semester assessment item will not be marked if the student has missed both the field and laboratory component of the item without a reasonable explanation. Students are expected to submit/sit all assessments.
    Recommended texts
    The following text-books will be in Closed Reserve in the UTS Library during the semester; it is not essential to purchase these text-books:
    Begon M, Howarth RW, Townsend CR (2014) Essentials of Ecology. Fourth Edition. Blackwell Publishing.
    Attiwill P, Wilson B (2006) Ecology: An Australian Perspective. Oxford University Press.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

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.