Conservation Biology

Module code: BS3058

Our planet and the ecosystems within it are currently subject to unprecedented rates of environmental change as a direct consequence of the activities of the human population. These changes impact across all habitat types, and have implications for the distribution, behaviour and survival of individual species, and for the composition of communities and the functioning of ecosystems. This module will provide you with a thorough understanding of the major threats that human-induced changes impose on species, habitats and ecosystems, and will introduce you to the approaches that are being taken to conserve global biodiversity.

The module consists of two main components: a campus-based lecture course that will give a you a firm grounding in conservation biology, and a series of field visits to local sites of conservation interest, to provide working examples of how conservation efforts are having a positive effect on biodiversity. Throughout the module, emphasis will be placed on using the current literature to provide the most up to date and timely understanding of this rapidly advancing field of study. This will be reinforced by the involvement of a range of external contributors actively working in the field of conservation biology.

Lecture course

The lecture course will introduce you the main regulatory frameworks governing conservation legislation, and the concept of ecosystem services. You will learn about the major threats facing global biodiversity, and some of the approaches to remediation of these threats. You will then learn about the major issues in conservation biology across a wide range of habitat types, including aquatic ecosystems, in woodlands and forests, and in agricultural landscapes, in each case examining the conflicts between the various stakeholders, and the consequences for sustainability.

Field visits

The field visits are undertaken across a five-day period in June each year, immediately following your second year exams. The field visits are chosen to present to you a diverse variety of conservation biology topics across a spread of different of habitat types, and highlighting different approaches to conservation, from species-based to ecosystem-based. We have previously visited Rutland Water to learn about Osprey conservation and wetland management, Loddington Farm in Leicestershire to learn about the pioneering techniques they are using to balance economically-viable farming and wildlife conservation, the River Welland to learn about river rehabilitation and fish conservation, and Rockingham Forest to learn about practical conservation of woodlands from the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust.

Learning

  • 18 one-hour lectures
  • 10 one-hour seminars
  • 40 hours of fieldwork
  • 132 hours of guided independent study

Assessment

  • Exam, 2 hours (50%)
  • Field course report (15%).
  • POSTnote report and press conference (35%)