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Module DXX-4531:
Botanical Ecology & Ecosystem

Module Facts

Run by School of Natural Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Paul Cross

Overall aims and purpose

Students will be introduced to plant ecology and insect pollinators. They will gain an understanding of the ecological interactions between plants and insect pollinators to implement more sensitive conservation management: Current conservation status of insect pollinators and corresponding plant groups, how populations are monitored, and how interventions in the broader landscape can contribute to improving their conservation status. Contributions relate, in particular, to ecosystem services, sustainable agricultural management and habitat restoration and/or maintenance. A key feature of the learning outcomes are the practical skills in planning, carrying out, and analysing and interpreting the data from habitat surveys of flowering plants and insect pollinators. There is a strong emphasis on “learning by doing”.

Course content

Module description Insects have a major impact on the ecology and economy of the world. The great diversity of insect form and function means their impact on human populations and activities can be beneficial or detrimental. During this module you will explore the complex beneficial interactions between insect pollinators and humans. For example insect pollinators provide an important service to plants, which in turn results in fruit, nuts and seed of vital nutritional importance to humans.
Module aims The module will consider how key pressures (e.g. land-use, disease) affect pollination services to crops (including cultivars) and wild plant species by altering pollinator populations and communities. The module will summarise how changes to pollinators (e.g. abundance, diversity, complementarity, redundancy, range shifts, phenology) may limit pollination services. The ecological and economic impacts will be considered with a focus on the main groups (bees and flies) involved in pollination services encompassing both managed (honey bees & bumblebees) and wild pollinators (butterflies & hoverflies). Throughout the module how local context (e.g. geographic region, landscape type) affects pollination services, and consequent effects on crop yields, biodiversity and wild ecosystem health, will be made clear. This module will introduce you to the diversity of insect pollinators and the plants they provide pollination services for and the role they play in the environment in terms of their interactions with plants, humans and other animals. Since insects play a key role in our environment, the knowledge and skills acquired by taking this module are relevant to many areas of employment such as conservation, consultancy, environmental planning, and agriculture.

Assessment Criteria

good

Students have a solid understanding of the two-way interaction between plants and insect pollinators. They have a rounded understanding of the physiological ecology of plants, and understand the ways in which this governs plant productivity. They can demonstrate a fairly robust understanding of the interactions between flowering plants and insect pollinators. They have a good understanding of the life cycle of honey bees within the colony and are able to explain the key environmental and human challenges that they face. They have a working understanding of the ecology of a range of bumblebees and butterflies. Submissions are well-argued, showing understanding and some depth of knowledge of the chosen topics, evidence of some supplementary reading, collection and use of original information, and much critical thought.

excellent

Students have an excellent understanding of the two-way interaction between plants and insect pollinators. They have an excellent understanding of the physiological ecology of plants, and understand the ways in which this governs plant productivity. They can demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the interactions between flowering plants and insect pollinators. They have a full, mechanistic understanding of the life cycle of honey bees within the colony and are able to explain the key environmental and human challenges that they face. They have an excellent understanding of the ecology of a range of bumblebees and butterflies. Submissions very well-argued, showing excellent understanding and depth of knowledge of the chosen topics, evidence of substantial supplementary reading, sound collection and use of original information, and much critical thought.

threshold

Students understand some of the aspects of the two-way interaction between plants and insect pollinators. They have a passing understanding of the physiological ecology of plants, and understand the ways in which this governs plant productivity. They can describe some of the interactions between flowering plants and insect pollinators. They have a working understanding of the life cycle of honey bees within the colony and are able to explain some of the key environmental and human challenges that the bees face. They describe some of the key aspects of the ecology of a range of bumblebees and butterflies. Submissions cover the fundamentals of the chosen topics, but are mainly based on material provided during the module, showing little evidence of supplementary reading or original information and lacking critical analysis.

Learning outcomes

    1. Make recommendations about the application of results for future plant and habitat assessment and management
    1. Demonstrate understanding of the principles and use of modelling, monitoring and experimentation
    1. Analyse, present and interpret the results
    1. Analyse and interpret existing information
    1. Demonstrate understanding of the ecological information needed for management and conservation of flowering plant and insect communities

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Panopto presentation 55
Essay 30
Plant identification 15

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
Private study 157
Lecture

Lectures 25 * 1 hour lectures & seminar sessions (25 hours total)

25
Laboratory

Labs 4 * 3 hour laboratory practical (12 hours)

12
Fieldwork

Field trips 1 * 6 hour fieldtrip (6 hours)

6

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Mentoring - Able to support, help, guide, inspire and/or coach others
  • Caring - Showing concern for others; caring for children, people with disabilities and/or the elderly
  • Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Courses including this module