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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Ecological Science

Undergraduate Course: Principles of Ecology (ECSC08006)

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
SummaryAn introduction to the factors determining the distribution and patterns of abundance of organisms, and which relate plant and animal populations to their environment in both terrestrial and marine environments. It includes the physiological ecology of plants and animals, the life history strategies by which organisms adapt to their environments, trophic ecology and the ecological significance of the niche, biodiversity and co-existance. The importance of evolutionary history and succession for understanding patterns of distribution will also be emphasised. The course includes an introduction to marine ecology and ecosystems. Finally a section concerning the influence of the human species on ecosystems will be presented. A practical project report must be submitted as part of the course. The course will include basic statistical methods training.
Course description Not entered
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed Biology, Ecology and Environment 1 (BILG08017)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a broad knowledge of the defining principles of ecology and understand the factors controlling the abundance and distribution of organisms globally.
  2. Understand and use introductory statistics; hypothesis testing, basic experimental design and field sampling.
  3. Demonstrate a broad knowledge of the ecological theory explaining patterns of spatial and temporal variations in species numbers in both terrestrial and marine environments.
  4. Carry out a scientific research project related to an ecological question: formulate clear, precise and potentially answerable questions, collect unbiased data and test hypotheses.
  5. Communicate by means of an oral presentation and a written scientific research report the basis of their research findings and through this critically analyse mainstream concepts within Ecological Science.
Reading List
The following are generally useful as sources of first reference on many topics. They cost 20-35 each.

Begon, M., Townsend, C. R. & Harper, J. L. (2006). Ecology (4th edn). Blackwell Science, Oxford. (The recommended text for this course)
Colinvaux, P. (1993). Ecology 2. Wiley, New York. (Readable and very good on some aspects)
Grime, J. P., & Pierce, S. (2012). The evolutionary strategies that shape ecosystems. John Wiley & Sons.
Ingrouille M. (1995). Historical Ecology of the British Flora. Chapman and Hall.
Kaiser MJ et al. (2011) Marine Ecology. Oxford University Press. (Highly recommended for overview of marine ecology & ecosystems)
Krebs, C. J. (1994 & 2001). Ecology. (4th & 5th edns). Harper Collins, New York. (Good on animal populations)
Levinton (2010) Marine Biology. Oxford University Press (Good for more in-depth review of biological topics)
Molles, M. (2015). Ecology: concepts and applications. McGraw-Hill Education.
Ricklefs, R. E. & Miller, G. L. (1999). Ecology. (4th edn). Freeman, New York.
Townsend, C.R., Begon, M. and Harper, J.L. (2014). Essentials of Ecology (2nd Edition). Wiley. (Highly recommended).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information
KeywordsPrinciples of Ecology
Course organiserDr Barbra Harvie
Course secretaryMrs Nicola Clark
Tel: (0131 6)50 4842
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