Ecology

Module code: NS1013

Module co-ordinator: Professor David Harper

Module Outline

The World’s biodiversity is in serious decline. We do not know the total number of species that were on this planet, say, at the beginning of the Second millennium, but by the beginning of the Third, we have identified 1.4 million species and we think there are at least 20 million, based upon individual studies of trees in rain forest for example and estimates of ecosystem diversity. Regardless of how many species there are in the ‘bank’ that we call the Biosphere, it is feared we’ll lose one-fifth of them by 2030.

Some people argue that all species have an intrinsic right to be on this planet. Others argue that their continued existence depends only on their usefulness to the one species – Homo sapiens – the one that is a part of, but dominates every process in, the Biosphere. If we accept the latter viewpoint, it begs the questions, how can we measure the usefulness of species to us and how many of them do we need to maintain the Biosphere sustainably? This Module will seek the answers to those two questions.

Learning Objectives

  • What is Ecology?
  • Species
  • Change in British Flora
  • Ecology of Communities
  • Ecological Succession
  • Processes within Ecosystems
  • The Ecosystem and its Key Biological Processes
  • Conservation Biology
  • Ecosystem Restoration
  • Geology, Soil, Geography and Ecosystems of Leicestershire

Assessment Methods

  • Group Planning documentation
  • Short Answer exercise sets
  • Written Report 
  • Oral Presentation (Group)
  • Oral Presentation (Individual)
  • Examination