Module Catalogues

Ecology in a changing world

Module Title Ecology in a changing world
Module Level Level 3
Module Credits 5.00
Academic Year 2020/21
Semester SEM2

Aims and Fit of Module

This course will provide the students with the analytical skills required to assess and quantify the impacts of current and future climate and environmental changes on terrestrial ecosystem. To this end the students will familiarize themselves with the latest research on these topics. Other impacts that occur in tandem will also be covered, including eutrophication and habitat loss. How all these impacts interact together and the resulting difficulty in predicting future impacts due to the complexity of interactions between variables will also be considered, with the students themselves identifying gaps in current knowledge and research solutions. Students will identify the implications for ecosystems, including agricultural ones, and the implications for human society, and will be in a position to propose remedial actions and adaptation options based on desired outcome.

Learning outcomes

A Be able to question, quantify and critically analyse the current and future pressures caused by climate and environmental changes on our planet.
B Identify gaps in knowledge and research priorities on the impact of elevated CO2 on vegetation and what this will mean for the wider ecosystems.
C Quantify and analyse the mechanisms by which terrestrial ecosystems respond to climatic change and the key drivers of these changes; this will build on community and ecosystem dynamics.
D Interpret the impacts of environmental changes including surface ozone, increased UV (due to lower tropospheric ozone) and increased nitrogen on terrestrial ecosystems. Apply the same logic and analysis to other perturbations (which will not be the focus of lectures).
E Quantitatively evaluate how climatic and environmental change drivers interact with direct impacts of human on the natural environment causing habitat destruction and fragmentation.
F Examine how all these impacts may interact with one another making future predictions very difficult. Independently conduct metadata analysis of the literature and draw conclusions from this work.
G Determine the implications for natural and human systems and identify possible mitigation and adaption measures.

Method of teaching and learning

Students will attend lectures, tutorials and practical work (laboratory/field site visit). Students will be expected to read around the topic and identify additional relevant information not necessarily identified during lectures – no more than the equivalent of a high 2:2 will be awarded if this is not demonstrated. Each student will write an essay on a topic of choice, highlighting the research done and the missing gaps in our knowledge; the work will be shared with the class. Teaching will include delivered lectures, tutorials where the students will be encouraged to discuss topics of their choice, practical class in which students will learn how to critically appraise the quality of published research, independent research to broaden the information given within lectures, independent research and analyses leading to a report / essay.
*Should the University decide to cancel or postpone the field trip due to unforeseen environmental and/or political circumstances, the Department will either plan an appropriate substitute activity to meet the intended learning outcomes of the trip or make necessary arrangements to organise the trip at a later time, as appropriate.