Department: Biological Sciences (School of)
Essex credit: 15
ECTS credit: 7.5
Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students: Yes
|Module is taught during the following terms
This module will examine the relationships between the diversity and functioning of organisms and their environment. As ecology is concerned with phenomena at several levels of organization, the course considers the different scales from the individual to the population, to the ecosystem and biome. We examine how behaviour, the non-living environment and biotic interactions affect the geographic distributions of organisms as well as population size and population growth. We also examine the major terrestrial biomes describing and contrasting their key features and composition. Next we consider ecosystem function, looking in particular at energy and nutrient flows, from solar input to fixed carbon in plants, (primary production) and on to herbivores, carnivores and decomposers (secondary production). In order to understand the way that organisms affect and are affected by their environment we describe the basics of the climate system and how it has changed over time including recent and projected changes due to human activities.
To pass this module students will need to be able to:
1. explain the basis of ecology and its relevance to finding solutions to environmental problems;
2. describe populations and population interactions and explain how behaviour, abiotic factors and biotic interactions influence populations;
3. explain fundamental ecological concepts underpinning population growth, energy flow (primary and secondary production) and nutrient cycling;
4. demonstrate knowledge of the processes and links between the earth-atmosphere-ocean system focusing on Earth's climate (past, present and future), the factors that determine it, and the role of organisms including humans in affecting the climate;
5. demonstrate skills in collecting, presenting analysing and interpreting field data.
Learning & Teaching Methods
Lectures (24 x 1 hour lectures including 1 on directed learning material plus 1 revision class before MCQ and 1 revision class before summer exam; 4 x 3 hour practicals or equivalent)
33 per cent Coursework Mark, 67 per cent Exam Mark
Practicals (4 worksheets equally weighted)
MCQ Exam: wk 30, Summer Exam: wks 33-36
Exam Duration and Period
1:00 hour exam during Summer Examination period.
Exam assessment: End of module MCQ Exam and 1 hour exam paper in Summer Term; both equally weighted
Krebs CJ (2009) Ecology: the experimental analysis of distribution and abundance. 6th Edition. Benjamin Cummings.
Mackenzie, A, Ball, AS and Virdee, SR (1998) Instant Notes in Ecology.Oxford BIOS.
Molles MC Ecology: Concepts and Applications. 4th Edition. McGraw Hill 604 pp.
Beeby, A. and Brennan, A. (2004) First Ecology: Ecological Principles and Environmental Issues., 2nd Edition. Oxford University Press.
Reece JB, Urry LA, Cain ML, Wasserman SA, Minorsky PV, Jackson RB, Campbell NA. (2011) Campbell BIOLOGY 9th edition Pearson, USA.
Smithson, Addison & Atkinson, (2008) Fundamentals of the Physical Environment, 4th Edition, Routledge.