Subtropical Physiology and Ecology

Module code: BS3078

Module co-ordinator: Dr Will Norton

This module will develop your advanced field course skills with a particular focus on animal and plant physiology, ecology and behaviour. You will study a broad range of topics including biodiversity, paleontology, sampling, taxonomy and toxicology. The majority of this work will be completed on a 10-day residential field course, providing the opportunity to observe animals and plants in nature and complete toxicological experiments in a field laboratory.

Before leaving Leicester you will receive background information needed to understand the ecosystem in Brazil and key concepts in field physiology and ecology. The field course will start with an introduction to the Federal University of Rio Grande (FURG) and will include lectures on biodiversity and ecological work, using the Taím marine station as an example, and on paleontology.

In Brazil you will receive broad field-based training in behaviour, biodiversity, paleontology, physiology, sampling, taxonomy and toxicology and gain the skills needed to collect and analyse data collected in the field and field lab. This will include collecting identifying species and mastering quantitative survey skills for different organisms in nature. You will keep a detailed account of your field observations and maintain a complete record of your fieldwork.

Topics covered

  • Collecting and identifying species in the field
  • Quantitative survey skills for organisms in nature.
  • Design and implementation of biology experiments in the field and analysis data using appropriate statistical and graphical techniques
  • Impact of environmental change upon animal physiology.


  • 10 one-hour lectures
  • 20 hours of practicals
  • 7 one-hour tutorials
  • 40 hours of fieldwork


  • Exam, 3 hours (60%)
  • Field book (30%)
  • Group presentation of field data (10%)