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MSci Genetics

Year of entry: 2020

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Course unit details:
Ecology and Conservation

Unit code EART25001
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 5
Offered by Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No


This unit will explore major ecological theories that underlie our understanding of the living world at different scales in space and time, and how ecological knowledge is used to make informed decisions on biodiversity conservation and ecosystem service management. The unit will examine how individuals adapt to their local environment and what are the fundamental trade-offs that restrain individual’s ability to thrive in all possible environments.

Population-level processes will be examined with particular focus on aspects relevant to conservation, including why some species tend to be common or rare and how population size and isolation affect evolutionary potential. Students will discover how communities and ecosystems are formed and change over time and how species interactions within and across trophic levels determine the levels of biodiversity in a given ecosystem.

The importance of landscape features and history for the maintenance of biodiversity at larger spatial and temporal scales will be explored and discussed in the context of conservation. Students will learn how biodiversity patterns vary at global scale, what are the main climatic and geological events that shaped biodiversity we see today, and how this knowledge can be used in prioritising global conservation efforts. Students will gain a broad understanding of the value of biodiversity for ecosystem service provision, main approaches to conservation at population, species and ecosystem level, and current international conservation initiatives and policies.      



  • To provide students with an overview of key ecological and evolutionary processes that underlie biodiversity patterns and dynamics at local, regional and global scales;
  • To explore in detail the role of biodiversity in ecosystem functioning and the delivery of ecosystem services, and consider why it should be preserved;
  • To provide knowledge of the current threats to biodiversity and how ecological knowledge of populations and ecosystems can guide conservation efforts and policy


Assessment methods

Method Weight

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 0

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Cecilia Medupin Unit coordinator
William Sellers Unit coordinator

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