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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Ecological Science

Undergraduate Course: Conservation Science (ECSC10036)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryConservation Science is an honours course combining biological and social science perspectives on the field of conservation. The course is a 20 credit course demanding significant student investment into the coursework of 200 hours: lectures/discussions/workshops (3 hour sessions each week), preparation and readings (at least 3 hours per week), group learning (3 hours per week), assignment preparation (60 hours), field course (three days) and external reading and engagement (20 hours). The course does not have any pre-requisites, but students are expected to have a background in ecology or biological sciences and to be comfortable reading and interpreting the scientific and social science literature and understanding basic applied statistics and mathematics.
Course description Week 1: No lecture this week
Week 2, 27 September: Introduction to Conservation Science
Week 3, 4 October: Patterns of Biodiversity
Week 4, 11 October: Why do we conserve biodiversity
Week 5, 18 October: Background population ecology for conservation
Fieldtrip, 21-23 October: Weekend fieldtrip to the Cairngorms: Conservation management in practice
Week 6, 25 October: Protected areas
Week 7, 1 November: Conservation Science mid-term Conference
***Opinion Piece Due***
Week 8, 8 November: Threats to biodiversity
Week 9, 15 November: People-focused conservation
***Blog post due***
Week 10, 22 November: Applied techniques in conservation: satellite remote sensing
Week 11, 29 November: Conservation in practice, course wrap up
***Post note due***
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs £40 for field trip to Cairngorms
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesSuccessful completion of introductory ecology or biology courses.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2016/17, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  37
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 30, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 166 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Presentation 10% - Given in Week 6 - Tuesday October 25
Opinion piece 60% - Due Week 7 -
Blog post 5% - Due Week 9
POST Note 25% - Due Week 11
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the concept of biodiversity change and identify threats to global biodiversity.
  2. Understand how and why we conserve ecosystems and populations.
  3. Understand people-focused conservation.
  4. Use ecological and social science methods to communicate science to academic, public and policy audiences.
  5. Give an oral presentation, write an opinion piece and construct a blog and write a PostNOTE on selected topics in the field of conservation science.
Reading List
Week 1: No reading
Week 2:
Soulé, Michael E. "What is conservation biology? A new synthetic discipline addresses the dynamics and problems of perturbed species, communities, and ecosystems." BioScience 35.11 (1985): 727-734.

Kareiva, Peter, and Michelle Marvier. "What is conservation science?." BioScience 62.11 (2012): 962-969.

Soule, M. The "new conservation." Conservation Biology (2013) 27:895-897.

Week 3:
Pereira, Henrique M., and H. David Cooper. "Towards the global monitoring of biodiversity change." Trends in Ecology & Evolution 21.3 (2006): 123-129.

Myers, Norman, et al. "Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities." Nature 403.6772 (2000): 853-858.

Kareiva, Peter, and Michelle Marvier. "Conserving Biodiversity Coldspots Recent calls to direct conservation funding to the world's biodiversity hotspots may be bad investment advice." American Scientist 91.4 (2003): 344-351.

Living Planet Index

Week 4:
Van Houtan, Kyle S. "Conservation as Virtue: a Scientific and Social Process for Conservation Ethics". Conservation Biology 20.5 (2006): 1367-1372

Justus, James et al. "Buying into conservation: intrinsic versus instrumental value". Trends in Ecology and Evolution 24.4 (2008): 187-191

Week 5:
Helmus, Matthew R., D. Luke Mahler, and Jonathan B. Losos. "Island biogeography of the Anthropocene." Nature 513.7519 (2014): 543-546.

Week 6:
Brosius, J. Peter. "Indigenous Peoples and Protected Areas at the World Parks Congress". Conservation Biology 18.3 (2004): 609-612

Terborough, John. "Reflections of a Scientist on the World Parks Congress". Conservation Biology 18.3 (2004): 619-620

Brooks et al. "Protected Areas and Species". Conservation Biology 18.3 (2004): 616-618

Juffe-Bignoli, D. et al. "Protected Planet Report 2014". UNEP-WCMC: Cambridge, UK.

Week 7: Mid-term conference. No required reading.

Week 8:
Dornelas, Maria, et al. "Assemblage time series reveal biodiversity change but not systematic loss." Science 344.6181 (2014): 296-299.

McGill, Brian J., et al. "Fifteen forms of biodiversity trend in the Anthropocene." Trends in ecology & evolution 30.2 (2015): 104-113.

Newbold, Tim, et al. "Global effects of land use on local terrestrial biodiversity." Nature 520.7545 (2015): 45-50.


Week 9:
Adams, William M. et al. "Biodiversity Conservation and the Eradication of Poverty". Science 306 (2004): 1146-1149

Milner-Gulland, E.J. et al. "Accounting for the Impact of Conservation on Human Well-Being". Conservation Biology 28.5 (2014): 1160-1166

Week 10:
Hansen, Matthew C., et al. "High-resolution global maps of 21st-century forest cover change." Science 342.6160 (2013): 850-853.

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsConservation,Biodiversity,Land-use change,Protected areas,Ecosystem services
Course organiserDr Isla Myers-Smith
Tel: (0131 6)50 7251
Course secretaryMr Matthew Hathaway
Tel: (0131 6)50 5430
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