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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Ecological Science

Undergraduate Course: Ecological and Environmental Analysis (ECSC08008)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course provides 2nd-year students with a foundation course in the collection and analysis of data relevant to biological, ecological and environmental problems. Topics dealt with in the course involve:
- Recognising variability and uncertainty in environmental and ecological systems and their importance;
- Gathering data suited to explain environmental and ecological systems through surveys and sampling;
- Establishing and describing relationships between different environmental and/or ecological variables;
- Design, analysis and interpretation of controlled experiments;
- Use of dynamic simulation models
Course description Future careers and dissertation projects will require Ecological and Environmental Sciences and other GeoSciences students to:

(i) Understand how variability (and bias) in data arises in the environment, (ii) how to sample in the light of this, and (iii) how to quantify the uncertainty in results / know how error might have been propagated. They also need to understand the how / what / why of relating factors and/or measured variables, feeding back into experimental design (treatments) and sampling. They may be looking for association (hypothesis formation), causality, or to describe the dynamics of the interactions (on a time-step). They may be seeking evidence of a mechanism or a quantitative prediction of an environmental or ecological response.

EEA addresses these needs. It introduces concepts incrementally. Each concept is developed by directly engaging them with real data / experimental situations.

EEA seeks to distinguish the purpose of enabling tools (software) from the centrality of basic (statistical) concepts. This is partly through demonstrating fluency in moving between alternative tools (noting their
commonality), and focusing on purpose / goal.

For EES and Biological Sciences (Ecology) students principles of hypothesis formation and an awareness of spatial heterogeneity will have been endowed in Semester 2 by the compulsory Yr2 course Principles of Ecology ECSC08006 (and Field Ecology). EEA will prepare E&ES students for Ecological Measurement course, including Firbush field course / project work. At Firbush students currently use common sense in the field. This is a missed opportunity for putting learning to work, not least as some dissertation students will not be field based.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2015/16, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  48
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 44, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 6, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 146 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 60 %, Coursework 40 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework (40%):
- Designing a survey (25%)
- Experimental design (15%)

Examination (60%):
Two-hour examination at the end of Semester 2 based on short and long answer questions
Feedback Not entered
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Students will be able to specify a sampling strategy that best deals with variability
  2. Students will know the main (different) goals of data analysis and statistical tools that fit
  3. Students will be able to undertake experimental design for their own purpose, correctly seeing it as a strategy to define treatments and collect data driven by a particular goal
  4. Students will have some fluency in selecting / using software tools that fit their task; an awareness of the range of tools available to undertake the same task
Reading List
Ford E.D. (2000) Scientific Method for Ecological Research. Cambridge University Press;

Barnard C, Gilbert F & McGregor P (2001) Asking Questions in Biology. 2nd Edition. Pearson;

Feinsinger P (2001). Designing Field Studies for Biodiversity Conservation. Nature Conservancy, Washington;

Hughes IG & Hase TPA (2010) Measurements and their Uncertainty, Oxford University Press, Oxford;

Fowler J, Cohen L & Jarvis P (1998) Practical Statistics for Field Biology, 2nd Edition. John Wiley;

Grafen A & Hails R (2002) Modern statistics for the Life Sciences. Oxford University Press, Oxford;

Ennos R (2007) Statistical and Data Handling Skills in Biology. Pearson;

Ruxton GD & Colegrave N (2006) Experimental Design for the Life Sciences. 2nd Edition. Oxford University Press, Oxford;

Haefner JW (1996) Modelling biological systems, Chapman & Hall, New York;

Smith J & Smith P (2007) Environmental Modelling: An Introduction, Oxford University Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Goal definition in experimental design.
Strategies for data collection.
Fluency with a range of statistical software tools .
KeywordsExperimental design,ecological survey,data analysis,environmental modelling
Course organiserDr Saran Sohi
Tel: (0131 6)51 4471
Course secretaryMiss Christine Lee
Tel: (0131 6)50 5430
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