ENV BIOL 1002 - Ecological Issues I

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2014

The principal aim of this course is to provide students with the knowledge that will enable them to participate actively in a rational debate about environmental problems. It introduces the 'scientific method' and illustrates its use via laboratory and field practicals that are written up as reports. The lectures cover the significant environmental issues of: resource utilisation and waste, ecosystem services and ecological footprints, global cycles, Australian landscapes and soils, biodiversity, grazing and indigenous knowledge, agricultural problems, invasive species, pests and quarantine, freshwater and marine ecosystems, conservation biology and adaptive management. There is the opportunity to discuss problems via tutorials. Details of day field trip communicated at the start of the course.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code ENV BIOL 1002
    Course Ecological Issues I
    Coordinating Unit School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
    Term Semester 2
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 6 hours per week, plus field trip
    Course Description The principal aim of this course is to provide students with the knowledge that will enable them to participate actively in a rational debate about environmental problems. It introduces the 'scientific method' and illustrates its use via laboratory and field practicals that are written up as reports. The lectures cover the significant environmental issues of: resource utilisation and waste, ecosystem services and ecological footprints, global cycles, Australian landscapes and soils, biodiversity, grazing and indigenous knowledge, agricultural problems, invasive species, pests and quarantine, freshwater and marine ecosystems, conservation biology and adaptive management. There is the opportunity to discuss problems via tutorials.
    Details of day field trip communicated at the start of the course.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Associate Professor David Paton

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes

    The successful student should be able to:

    1 critically evaluate written and visual material on environmental problems;
    2 understand the scientific bases for current ecological problems, including water resources and conservation issues, in an Australian and global context;
    3 apply the principles of the scientific method to collect, analyse and interpret ecological data;
    4 present experimental results in a written form that aligns with conventions for scientific reports;
    5 discuss scientific matters of current international interest in an informed manner.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 1,2,3,4
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 1-5
    An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. 1-5
    Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 3,4
    A proficiency in the appropriate use of contemporary technologies. 1,3,4
    A commitment to continuous learning and the capacity to maintain intellectual curiosity throughout life. 5
    A commitment to the highest standards of professional endeavour and the ability to take a leadership role in the community. 1-4
    An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 1-5
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    No resources are required to be purchased externally. Readings are supplied throughout the course on MyUni.
    Recommended Resources
    Students may find the following works helpful:
    • Attiwil, P. and Wilson, B. (eds) (2006). Ecology: An Australian Perspective. 2nd edn. (Oxford University Press, New York.) – great general ecology text that comprehensively covers Australian systems
    • Australia State of the Environment (1996). (CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne). Available on-line at http://www.deh.gov.au/soe/ Updates for 2001 and 2006 are also available from this website
    • Diamond, J. (2005). Collapse. (Penguin, London.) – an interesting and informative account of conflicts between societies and their environments. Chapter 13 will be posted on MyUni
    • Krebs, C. (2007). The Ecological World View. (CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne) – recommended for those with limited ecological background knowledge, or who are planning to continue in ecology courses
    • Recher, HF, Lunney, D, Dunn, I (1995) A Natural Legacy: Ecology in Australia' (SNP Printing: Auckland) – great general ecology text with emphasis on Australian systems
    • Tyler Miller, G. (2007). Living in the Environment: Principles, Connections and Solutions. 15th edn. (Brooks/Cole, Belmont, CA.) – an interesting overview of human impacts on natural systems, with topical case studies, mainly from the US
    • Wright, R. (2004). A Short History of Progress. (Text Publishing, Melbourne) – concise, thought-provoking book giving examples of past mistakes made by civilisation, and how we can learn from them
    Online Learning
    Teaching materials and course documentation will be posted on the MyUni website (http://myuni.adelaide.edu.au/).
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This course will be delivered by the following means:
    • 3 X 1-hour lectures per week
    • 1 X 3-hour practical/tutorial per week (some sessions will be a local field trip)
    Workload

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    A student enrolled in a 3 unit course, such as this, should expect to spend, on average 12 hours per week on the studies required. This includes both the formal contact time required to the course (e.g., lectures and practicals), as well as non-contact time (e.g., reading and revision).
    Learning Activities Summary

    Schedule
    Lecture Tutorial /Practical
    How Australian ecosystems work – Terrestrial ecosystems and their problems
    Week 1 Introduction
    Fire and Australian ecosystems
    Arid lands
    Tutorial 1 Biodiversity and fire
    Week 2 Chenopod shrublands and grazing responses
    Mediterranean heath and mallee systems
    Sclerophyll forests
    Terrestrial Field Trip Anstey Hill (fire practical)
    Week 3 Mangroves
    Rainforests
    Gondwana and ecosystems through time
    Tutorial 2 Data analysis and report writing
    Week 4 Test in lecture (15%)
    How Australian ecosystems work - Freshwater and marine ecosystems and their problems
    Week 4
    cont
    Aquatic ecosystems
    Salinity
    No formal activity Hand in Anstey Hill report
    Week 5 Environmental flows
    Torrens
    Total catchment management
    Field trip – Torrens River
    Week 6 Pollution (point and diffuse)
    The Coorong
    The marine environment
    No formal activity Hand in Torrens report
    Week 7 Harvesting marine resources
    Land-based impacts
    Effects of human movements – invasive species
    Marine Field trip – Marine site(s) near Adelaide
    Week 8 Effects of global change on marine systems
    Marine conservation options
    Test in lecture (20%)
    Tutorial 3– Marine impacts
    Mid Semester Break
    Global ecological perspectives
    Week 9 Climate and climate change in Australia
    Global biogeochemical cycles: carbon pools, processes, C & climate change
    No formal activity: Hand in Marine report
    Week 10 Global biogeochemical cycles: N and P and Australian ecological issues
    Australian unique environment: Landscape soil development and degradation
    Australian unique environment: biodiversity and soil ecosystem function

    Tutorial 4 Climate Change and carbon sequestration
    Week 11 Homo sapiens and ecological footprints
    Resource utilization
    Water – a key resource

    Tutorial 5– resource use and ecological footprints
    Week 12 Solutions to problems – importance of science
    Solutions to problems – ecological, social and economic integration, course overview & summary
    Test in lecture (25%)
    Tutorial 6 – revision and integration
    Specific Course Requirements
    There are three x 3h field trips in this course that are in weeks 2, 5 and 7.
    All field trips are compulsory. However an alternative assessment is provided in the event a student is unable to participate for legitimate reasons (medical, compassionate, disability, exceptional circumstance). Permission to do the alternative assessment needs to be approved by the Course Co-ordinator
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Task Type Percentage of total assessment Hurdle
    Yes/No
     Date for Assessment Learning Outcome
    Assessed/Achieved
    Practical Reports Summative

    35%

    No Weeks 4,6,9 1-4
    Lecture Tests Summative 60% No Weeks 4,8,12 1,2,5
    Tutorial Participation Formative/Summative 5% No ongoing 1-5
    Assessment Detail
    Anstey Hill Fire Report (10%)
    Students collect data on vegetation patterns at differing time intervals after a fire event at Anstey Hill Recreation Park in a field trip in week 2. These data are combined into class data, which will be analysed and presented to students. Students then write up the report as a scientific article, discussing the results of that year’s findings with reference to those of years past.

    Torrens Report (10%)
    In the Torrens excursion in week 5, students identify potential points of impact to the Torrens River system along its length up to the St Peters billabong. Students then summarise the main threats to the river, as well as the suitability and effectiveness of current and proposed management actions, in a report. The report is in the style of a media release, pitched at a general, non-scientific audience, with an aim to encourage debate and participation from members of the general community.

    Marine Report (15%)
    Students will undertake a field trip to the local area area in week 7 to observe coastal settings adjacent to the metropolitan area to examine threats to the marine environment (sewage discharge, saline discharge from the desalination plant, runoff from the land). The report is written as in a scientific style, as in a govt-based scientific submission.

    Tutorial presentation and participation (5%)
    Tutorials of two types will be held throughout semester: ‘skills’ tutorials and ‘content’ tutorials. Skills tutorials will familiarise students with techniques common to scientists in their collection, analysis, interpretation and communication of research findings. Content tutorials will reinforce knowledge presented in lectures, and allow students to communicate their opinions and interpretations of the material in the context of a key ecological question of contemporary relevance. The tutorial mark, assigned by individual tutors, will be based on attendance, participation, and the completion of pre-tutorial tasks and worksheets.

    Tests (60%)
    Three tests will be given to address understanding of the lecture material. Each test will be given at the end of a set of lectures that form one of the three themes. These tests will be in week 5, 8 and 12 of the semester
    Test 1 in lecture – 15%
    Test 2 in lecture – 20%
    Test 3 in lecture – 25%
    Submission
    If an extension is not applied for, or not granted then a penalty for late submission will apply. A penalty of 10% of the value of the assignment for each calendar day that the assignment is late (i.e. weekends count as 2 days), up to a maximum of 50% of the available marks will be applied. This means that an assignment that is 5 days late or more without an approved extension can only receive a maximum of 50% of the marks available for that assignment
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

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