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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Biological Sciences : Postgraduate

Postgraduate Course: Tropical Biodiversity Field Course (PGBI11046)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Biological Sciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThe RBGE Field Course if one of the few courses in the world that teaches students the necessary skills to identify plants in the field based on vegetative characters alone. Most courses and identification books focus on the use of flowers and fruits for identification, which is more relevant to working in herbaria or in temperate regions, where flowering is seasonally synchronous. In the tropics, where species diversity in a local area can be as high as 300 tree species in a single hectare of forest, plants flower asynchronously and are encountered without flowers and fruits most of the year.

The course aims to equip students with general skills to plan and execute botanical field work confidently in any tropical area. Hence, we will not focus on teaching Colombian flora specifically, but aim to teach students the process of identifying plants in the field using sterile characters alone. Having flowers is a bonus and we will explore this when possible.

The course covers the most important tropical plant families and some genera. While working with plants, students will also gain experience in conducting qualitative and quantitative ecological surveys and how to collect five star herbarium specimens.

The course consists of ~12 days teaching at a few different sites. The research skills are built up each day using a series of exercises. Each exercise brings in new techniques and new plants and reinforces concepts learnt on previous days. Each morning is spent in the field learning practical skills of monitoring and surveying, whilst afternoons are used for working on plant identification, data recording, and analysis. Formal teaching is done in the evenings through lectures and seminars to integrate the skills and experience obtained during the entire day.
Course description Not entered
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2019/20, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Block 3 (Sem 2)
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 80, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 18 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 60 %, Practical Exam 40 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Course assessment consist of four separate parts. A total of 60% of the marks is made of course work, including family presentations done in the first term (20% of marks), logbook written doing the field course in January (20% of marks), and quality of plant specimens collected during the field course (20% of marks). The remaining 40% of marks will be based on a practical examination of non-fertile material at the end of the field course in Colombia.
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Identify unknown angiosperms from major plant families from the tropics using vegetative characters alone
  2. Collect and process high quality herbarium specimens with images and field notes required for accurate species identification
  3. Carry out basic qualitative and quantitative vegetation surveys and monitoring across tropical vegetation types
  4. Execute safe botanical field work in the tropics by applying best practise guidelines on health and safety, navigation, and collecting permits
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information The field course is scheduled for the first two weeks in January.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Louis Ronse De Craene
Tel: (0131) 248 2804
Course secretaryMrs Claire Black
Tel: (0131 6)50 8637
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