Global Ecology and Wildlife Conservation

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1 Vaughan Centre for Lifelong Learning Part-Time Certificate of Higher Education in Global Ecology and Wildlife Conservation Delivered via Distance Learning FAQs What are the aims of the course? This course aims to provide an understanding of the principles which underpin contemporary ecological science, wildlife conservation and habitat management; and to provide a practical and theoretical grounding in the wide range of field techniques and skills employed in the study of plant and animal communities and practical experience in data collection, analysis and interpretation. What is the level of this course? We offer a basic entry level course that builds up your knowledge of ecology and wildlife conservation from fundamentals to the equivalent of the first year of a degree course. Whether you are a complete beginner or if you already have some knowledge or experience of ecology and wildlife conservation you will find plenty of opportunities to update and expand your knowledge. If you do not have any prior scientific training, please be prepared to work harder at the beginning, as you adapt to scientific ways of thinking and working. Who is likely to study this course? This course is designed specifically for part-time students. It can be taken for personal development or simply for pleasure, but also provides the opportunity to gain a valuable qualification that may help you on your way to building a career within wildlife and conservation organisations, or be a stepping stone to more advanced study. Admission is open to those who have no previous environmental or biological training as well as enthusiasts wanting to build their knowledge and professionals seeking to update their previous training. How is the course structured? The course is divided into 6 modules, each worth 20 credits. Students take each module in turn, completing three modules in each year of the course. What qualifications do I need? No prior qualifications except an education to school-leaving standard are asked for on entry to the course. However, students must be motivated and able to commit themselves to serious academic study. In appropriate cases, previous relevant educational attainment can be taken into account to give exemptions from part or parts of the certificate. How will I study? Students study at home by correspondence, supported by electronic communication and e-tivities using the University s Virtual Learning Environment. Course notes are supplied electronically or in print. Students also receive a number of core text books and DVDs and will have access to the university library, both on and off campus. The course consists of six compulsory modules, each of which is assessed by coursework. The nature of the assessed work for each module differs but includes essays, short answer questions, reports and participation in an on-line discussion board. You are also provided with non-assessed study support exercises throughout the course. As a guideline each module should involve around 150 hours of private study over a four month period. Module 3, taken at the end of year one, includes a compulsory one week residential field trip in the UK. Module 6 is a personal project for which the subject of study is decided between the student and course tutors. What will I learn? This course will aim to provide a high quality teaching programme, within which your own specific interests can be developed. It will ensure that you have a general appreciation of the broad aspects of pure and applied ecology and are able to understand and engage with the research which underpins this scientific discipline. It will provide practical training in collecting, interpreting and analysing ecological data. It will provide an opportunity to learn about global environmental issues that affect biodiversity conservation and training in conservation management planning. It will also enable you to develop both subject-specific and transferable skills.

2 Course Programme Course Syllabus 120 credits at 1st Year Higher Education level from six modules, each with a value of 20 credits. The module titles are: Year 1 1. Introduction to Ecology and Conservation 2. The Diversity of Organisms and Principles of Taxonomy 3. Practical Field Ecology Year 2 4. Biodiversity Conservation: Science and Society 5. Contemporary Conservation Management 6. Student Led Project in Conservation Ecology / Wildlife Conservation Practice By the conclusion of this course, you should be able to: Demonstrate knowledge of the theory and practice of ecology and wildlife conservation. Demonstrate competence in collecting, interpreting and analysing ecological data. Critically evaluate the theoretical and methodological perspectives employed in ecology Describe the role of ecology within natural and social sciences and in contemporary society. Critically reflect on research observations presented in literature and your own empirical research. Communicate in writing and orally concepts and arguments relevant to ecology Formulate appropriate questions/hypotheses for ecological inquiry; gather and utilise suitable evidence in answering them. Apply a scientific approach to the solution of problems in ecology Design simple ecological investigations using scientific methods and principles Demonstrate field observation and identification skills Explain principles and concepts behind conservation management planning Demonstrate a range of skills that are necessary for lifelong learning, including the use of Information Technology, the capacity to access a range of resource materials, effective time management and the ability to work in small groups

3 Modules in more detail Please note that module content and coursework may vary slightly due to ongoing course development. Module 1: Introduction to Ecology and Conservation This module starts with a short induction programme to introduce you to studying at University level. You are helped to find and access all the learning support resources that you need to study, such as accessing Library resources, use of Blackboard and online facilities, using online tools to communicate with your tutors and others students and general study support information. You are expected to complete an online Study Skills worksheet. The module then goes on to introduce basic concepts of ecology and why an understanding of ecology and the impact humans have on ecological processes is key to conservation. Unit 1: What is Ecology? Unit 2: The Concept of Species; Unit 3: Ecology of Populations Unit 4: Ecology of Communities Unit 5: Ecological Succession Unit 6: The Ecosystem and its Key Processes 2 x Study Support Exercises (750 words each) 50% Essay (2000 words) 50% Use key study skills such as scientific writing, essay writing, using online resources, library skills, critical reading, etc Define and use key terms in ecology such as ecosystem, community, population and species Module 2: The Diversity of Organisms and Principles of Taxonomy This module develops your understanding of how organisms are identified and classified. Unit 1: The Diversity of Life Unit 2: The Major Microbial Groups Unit 3: The Major Plant Groups (lower plants & higher plants, excluding algae) Unit 4: The Major Animal Groups (invertebrates & vertebrates) Unit 5: The Evolution of the Major Animal Groups Unit 6: The Process of Identifying Organisms 3 x Study Support Exercises (750 words each) 50% Ecological sampling exercise field report (2000 words) 50% describe the principles which underpin modern taxonomy explain the theory of evolution by natural selection define biological diversity within biological communities and within species describe the major plant and animal groups and how they are organised by taxonomists use dichotomous keys to identify plant or animal specimens interpret field observations in terms of taxonomic classification Describe living organisms in relation to the ecosystems they inhabit Articulate how ecosystems influence the flow of energy and cycling of matter at a range of scales Describe how abiotic factors influence the character of ecosystems Describe important global mineral cycles - water, carbon and nitrogen Summarise the impacts human activities have on ecosystems

4 Module 3: Practical Field Ecology This module introduces the practical techniques necessary for undertaking ecological surveys and scientific research. It includes a week long residential field course in the UK, which is a compulsory part of the programme. Unit 1: Hypothesis Formation Unit 2: Designing a Research Methodology Unit 3: Introduction to Statistics Unit 4: Mapping ecological data Unit 5: Techniques in Field Ecology (Pembrokeshire) Unit 6: Field Exercises in Pembrokeshire Field research report (2000 words) 50% Research poster presentation 50% plan and conduct simple ecological investigations according to recognised scientific conventions demonstrate field observation and identification skills select and employ an appropriate method and sampling strategy for gathering ecological data use a range of techniques to gather data in the field select and employ an appropriate method to analyse data gathered in the field plan a short scientific investigation as part of a group evaluate and present research findings according to recognised conventions Module 4: Biodiversity Conservation; Science and Society In this module you will learn more about biological diversity, the drivers of environmental change and how the science of ecology and an understanding of social science are both important factors in biodiversity conservation. Unit 1: Biodiversity and Agents of Diversity Unit 2: Biodiversity losses, their causes and responses Unit 3: Biodiversity in the anthropogene Unit 4: Social science for ecologists Unit 5: Ecosystem Services for Human Well-being Unit 6: Responses to Climate Change Assessment of contribution to online discussion forum 15% Essay (1500 words) 35% 3 x Study Support Exercises (750 words each) 50% Describe how isolation, environmental disturbance and environmental gradients contribute to global patterns of biodiversity. Review how human activities impact on biodiversity and the environment Evaluate the value of ecosystem services and describe methods for their valuation Describe major climatic cycles and their impacts upon global biodiversity Describe, critique and use social science concepts and research methods and their application in biodiversity conservation Evaluate future projections of environmental degradation and biodiversity loss Describe and evaluate strategies to mitigate for human impacts on biodiversity loss

5 Module 5: Contemporary Conservation Management This module introduces new tools and concepts that are essential in modern day conservation management practice. The coursework for this module is comprised of a mapping exercise and production of a conservation management plan. Unit 1: Field mapping and Geographical Information Science for Ecologists Unit 2: Principles of remote sensing for environmental monitoring and analysis Unit 3: Scales of conservation practice : policy, ethics and economics Units 4 and 5: Conservation management Two case studies chosen from: Forest ecosystems the impact of REDD Savannah ecosystems the role of pastoralism Living landscapes in the UK Urban wildlife Wetland ecosystems Marine ecosystems Unit 6: Conservation management planning 3 Computer-based mapping exercises with written discussion (500 words) 50% Management Report (2000 words) 50% Use geographical information systems to collect, store, manipulate, analyse and visualise ecological data Module 6: Student Led Project in Conservation Biology The theme for your final project is determined through negotiation between the student and an individual tutor. If possible the student is encouraged to formulate the idea and research question for the project themselves from a topic in ecology or conservation that motivates them academically and practically. Teaching and Learning Strategy Following background reading students submit a research proposal. This is then discussed (usually by ) with a tutor. Students carry out and write up their project report independently seeking additional tutorial support from tutors if required. Course notes are provided covering project design, health and safety and report writing. Correspondence with tutor and detailed project proposal (1000 words) 20% Project report (4000 words) 80% formulate a research ideas as a scientific hypothesis conduct independent ecological research in a field environment conduct social research related to conservation management (optional) analyse and report findings according to recognised scientific conventions discuss findings in relation to other relevant research critically evaluate their own research work and identify opportunities for further research Describe and apply principles for spatial data handling Describe the roles of statutory and non-statutory bodies in environmental governance Evaluate biodiversity and environmental management strategies Design and produce a conservation management plan

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