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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Postgraduate Courses (School of GeoSciences)

Postgraduate Course: Soil Ecology and Taxonomy (PGGE11221)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryIn the Soil Ecology and Taxonomy course we introduce you to soils and soil biodiversity in terms of the major participants involved in key soil processes, functions, fertility and overall soil health. In addition the course discusses the challenges soils face in relation to degradation, pollution and intensification. The course will explore strategies to improve sustainable soil use to conserve soil biodiversity while maintaining functions and ecosystem services
Course description The course will be delivered over the following 10 teaching periods:

Week 1: Fundamentals of Soil Science

Soil formation, composition and development. Soil characterisation and key properties. Soil Functions and Ecosystem Services (Run jointly with Soil Protection & Management course, includes a morning lecture with an afternoon field trip)

Week 2: An Introduction to Soil Biology

From genes to ecosystem services: Soil microbiological groups & food web. Who are the key players, groups and hierarchy

Week3: Role of Soil Ecology in Decomposition and Nutrient Cycling:

Resource quality and litter breakdown and decomposition; Role of soil fauna in nutrient cycling and nutrient turnover

Week4: Soil Health

What is Soil health (characteristics & indicators of healthy soils and role of microorganisms as indicators); Soil biological management for sustainable soil health;

Week 5: Agroecology and Agroforestry Role of soil biology in agronomic management in sustainable agriculture. Ecosystem recovery and resilience

Week 6: Soil Biological Monitoring Techniques:

Lab/Field session to look over common techniques

Week 7: Soil Ecological Bioremediation┬┐1

Microbially driven bioremediation of metal contaminants. Theory and latest research advances in this field

Week 8: Soil Ecological Bioremediation 2

Microbially driven bioremediation of organic (hydrocarbon) contaminants. Including site investigation and engineering aspects to put it into an industrial context

Week 9: Assessed presentations

List of titles to be agreed beforehand ┬┐ this will be discussed in Week 1 papers

Week 10: Course content overview and discussion. Discussion of posters; List of papers to choose from to be agreed beforehand ┬┐ this will be discussed in Week 1
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs No
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2021/22, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  30
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 10, Formative Assessment Hours 10, Summative Assessment Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 136 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 10% for oral presentation
30% for poster
60% for essay

Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the key groups of soil biota and identify the role of these groups in ecosystem processes and services
  2. Develop fundamental knowledge of biological interactions contributing to major biogeochemical nutrient cycles, climate change mitigation and the role of soil biology in agricultural production and alleviating pollution
Reading List
Paul E.A. (2015) Soil Microbiology, Ecology and Biochemistry 4th Edition. ISBN 978-0-12-415955-6.
Ritz. K., Wall., D. H., Bardgett, R.D. et al. (2013) Soil Ecology and Ecosystem Services. ISBN-13: 978-0199688166.
Bargett R.D., Wardle D. A. (2010) Aboveground-Belowground Linkages: Biotic Interactions, Ecosystem Processes, and Global Change (Oxford Series in Ecology and Evolution). ISBN-10: 0199546886
Killham, K. (1994) Soil Ecology, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0 521 43521 8.
Robertson GP, Coleman DC, Bledsoe CS, Sollins P, editors. (1999) Standard soil methods for long-term ecological research. New York: Oxford University Press; pp. 258┬┐271.

Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will acquire and develop the following transferable
1. General analytical understanding of tests pertinent to soil biota assessment in a range of setting and environments
2. Organisation skills to plan, execute and report on
scientific investigation.
3. To participate in individual and team activities toward the completion of assignments and goals.
4. Critically evaluate literature, to identify gaps in knowledge, synergies.
Special Arrangements None
Study Abroad No
Keywordsaxonomy,Biodiversity,Function,Land Use and Ecosystem Services
Course organiserDr Sarah Buckingham
Course secretaryMs Jennifer Gumbrell
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