Module BSX-2034:
Florida 1 Field Trip

Module Facts

Run by School of Natural Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Prof Simon Creer

Overall aims and purpose

Develop basic field skills in coastal and terrestrial subtropical habitats Promote enthusiasm for observing biodiversity, ecological and behavioural interactions and understanding conservation issues in situ. Develop important skills necessary for self managed and lifelong learning, including teamwork, presentation and written communication skills. Develop students abilities to ask and address research questions on the environmental, ecological, or behavioural factors governing the distribution and abundance of biodiversity in subtropical ecosystems.

Course content

10 day field course in Florida, focused on biodiversity and ecology of flora and fauna across marine, brackish and terrestrial biomes. The students are expected to prepare for the field course by performing background reading and preparing presentation material. We carry out field excursions to different habitats and biomes and students experience combinations of self-guided, seminar based and guided explorations of different subtropical habitats. Students learn about the different habitats and biodiversity by a combination of personal observations, talks by BU, guides, mentors and local staff. Students observe and record flora and fauna and their context in different habitats using different media, including field notebooks, photography, video and drawings. Under staff supervision, students undertake marine sampling of shallow (below chest height) habitats using seine nets and active hand searching, with the appropriate safety equipment, while observing ethical and safety protocols governed by the hosting institution one Florida Gulf Coast University. Students carry out species identification using field guides, online searching and keys. Students deliver oral presentations while on the field course and undertake numerical exercises during their field sampling, in addition to preparing and finishing a mentored Project Proposal, that is handed in approximately four weeks after returning to Bangor.

Assessment Criteria

threshold

Threshold (40-50%, D Grades): Can record observations in a reasonably clear and systematic fashion and have some grasp of the practical issues relating to collection and presentation of data/observations. Considerable inconsistencies in notetaking remain. Exhibits some knowledge of habitats and biota visited and some of the the relevant conservation/management issues, although this may be very incomplete and contain significant errors. Present findings and questions via oral presentation and written work adequately, but with considerable room for imporovement. Able to identify most organisms at least to the level of major group.

good

Good (60-70%, B Grades): Can record observations clearly and systematically, with a grasp of the practical issues relating to collection and presentation of data/observations, albeit with a few major omissions. Exhibits strong knowledge of habitats and biota visited. Shows awareness of the ecological, and environmental context. Able to identify the majority of organisms to the appropriate level (usually species). Presents findings and questions via oral presentation and written work accurately and with flair, clarity and originality.

excellent

Excellent (70-100%, A grades): Can record observations thoroughly, systematically and clearly, without significant omissions, including finer details of identification to find taxonomic level or to uncover theories of the function, evolution, ecology or the behavioural adaptations observed. Clear evidence of original, unguided observations. Exhibits clear awareness of the ecological and environmental context of observations. Presents findings and questions via oral presentation and written work accurately and succinctly with clarity, imagination, originality and strongly-developed aesthetic sense. Able to identify most organisms to species level, with evidence of thoroughness and awareness of potential pitfalls.

Learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate identification skills and knowledge relating to flora and fauna of visited study sites.

  2. Demonstrate the ability to make detailed, thorough and original field observations and to record and present them systematically.

  3. Demonstrate skills necessary for self managed and lifelong learning (undertaking directed reading, time management, teamwork, presentation skills, working to a deadline).

  4. Demonstrate understanding and the ability to address research questions regarding the environmental and ecological factors governing the distribution of biodiversity in subtropical habitats and prevailing conservation challenges.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
REPORT Field notebook

Field notes of habitats, species seen, behaviours observed et cetera during the trip.

40
Written assignment, including essay Research Project Proposal

Research project proposal featuring the biomes and organisms visited during the course of the field trip.

40
ORAL Biodiversity presentation

Oral presentation on the biodiversity of the region, encapsulating environmental, ecological and conservation context.

20

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
Lecture

Pre-departure lectures on background, preparations, safety, aims and objectives and assessments.

3
Workshop

Talks and workshops in Florida on topics relevant to the days activities and preparing for assessments.

7
Fieldwork

Fieldwork involving walks, seminars and self-guided biodiversity exploration. Sampling shallow littoral marine biodiversity.

160
Private study

To complement the different forms of assessment, we expect students to perform their own private study, to research the flora and fauna, ecology and environment of the region to prepare for field work and oral presentations. Further, both shared and private study will help enhance student's knowledge of the taxa and habitats and broader environmental issues pertaining to the fieldnotebook component of the course. Finally, students will spend time researching background information, methodology and predicted results for the proposed favourite research areas that will feature in the project proposal assessment.

30

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.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • 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
  • Leadership - Able to lead and manage, develop action plans and objectives, offer guidance and direction to others, and cope with the related pressures such authority can result in

Subject specific skills

  • PS1 Communication skills, covering both written and oral communication with a variety of audiences
  • PS2 Skills in the employment of common conventions and standards in scientific writing, data presentation, and referencing literature
  • PS3 Problem-solving skills, relating to qualitative and quantitative information
  • PS4 Numeracy and mathematical skills, including handling data, algebra, functions, trigonometry, calculus, vectors and complex numbers, alongside error analysis, order-of-magnitude estimations, systematic use of scientific units and different types of data presentation
  • PS5 Information location and retrieval skills, in relation to primary and secondary information sources, and the ability to assess the quality of information accessed
  • PS7 Basic interpersonal skills, relating to the ability to interact with other people and to engage in teamworking
  • PS8 Time management and organisational skills, as evidenced by the ability to plan and implement efficient and effective ways of working
  • PS11 Problem-solving skills including the demonstration of self-direction, initiative and originality
  • PS6 Information technology skills which support the location, management, processing, analysis and presentation of scientific information
  • PS12 The ability to communicate and interact with professionals from other subjects
  • PS13 The ability to make decisions in complex and unpredictable situations
  • PS14 Independent learning skills required for continuing professional development
  • PS15 The ability to think critically in the context of data analysis and experimental design
  • SK1 Are fully conversant with major aspects of chemical terminology
  • PS9 skills needed to undertake appropriate further training of a professional nature

Resources

Resource implications for students

Students pay for field course through deposits/payments spread through their Year 1 and the Summer before Year two. Typical costs in recent years (2017 and 2018) have been between £1100-£1200, contingent on exchange rates and airfares. This includes flights, accommodation, local transport, fuel, entrance fees to state and national parks. We also recommend that the students bring an additional $200 for self catering food, snacks, tourist activities et cetera. Students are also responsible for acquiring suitable field clothing and sun protection (appropriate footwear, clothing, sun hat, screen etc.)

Reading list

To be provided in class and via field course study guides.

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: