ENV BIOL 1002 - Ecological Issues I
North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2015
General Course Information
Course Code ENV BIOL 1002 Course Ecological Issues I Coordinating Unit School of Biological Sciences Term Semester 2 Level Undergraduate Location/s North Terrace Campus Units 3 Contact Up to 6 hours per week, plus field trip Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y 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 Coordinator: Associate Professor David Paton
The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.
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
Required ResourcesNo resources are required to be purchased externally. Readings are supplied throughout the course on MyUni.
Recommended ResourcesStudents 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 LearningTeaching materials and course documentation will be posted on the MyUni website (http://myuni.adelaide.edu.au/).
Learning & Teaching Activities
Learning & Teaching ModesThis 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)
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
Tutorial 1 Biodiversity and fire Week 2 Chenopod shrublands and grazing responses
Mediterranean heath and mallee systems
Terrestrial Field Trip Anstey Hill (fire practical) Week 3 Mangroves
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
No formal activity Hand in Anstey Hill report Week 5 Environmental flows
Total catchment management
Field trip – Torrens River Week 6 Pollution (point and diffuse)
The marine environment
No formal activity Hand in Torrens report Week 7 Harvesting marine resources
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
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 RequirementsThere 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
The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:
- Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
- Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
- Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
- Assessment must maintain academic standards.
Assessment Task Task Type Percentage of total assessment Hurdle
Date for Assessment Learning Outcome
Practical Reports Summative
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 DetailAnstey 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.
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%
SubmissionIf 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
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.
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