- UCAS course code
- UCAS institution code
Year of entry: 2024
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Course unit details:
Tropical Ecology & Conservation (RSM Field Course)
|Available as a free choice unit?
|Introduction to Statistics for Field Courses
-If you select a field course RSM unit and have not previously completed the BIOL10692: Introduction to Statistics for Field Course unit (zero credits) in Year 1, this unit will be added to your record as a mandatory co-requisite, to be completed in semester 2 of Year 2.
This unit aims to provide training in research techniques for studying the ecology, behaviour and biodiversity of tropical organisms across a range of natural environments, from mangroves to pre-montane forests to lowland tropical rainforests using the approaches of field-based biologists. The independent project focuses on the formulation of research questions, experimental design, sampling, and data analysis in a tropical rainforest environment. The aim of the course is to study tropical flora and fauna in their natural environments and apply the knowledge gained during the course to assess the conservation and sustainability issues of natural and semi-natural tropical sites.
- Be able to describe the basic natural history of key plant and animal taxa in Costa Rica, and be able to identify those importantly associated with tropical ecosystems.
- Research organisms in their natural tropical environment by designing a field study, including formulating an hypothesis, selecting appropriate sampling techniques and using the appropriate statistical tests to test their hypothesis
- Create and maintain a field note book
- Develop team working and leadership skills
- Be able to present oral and written accounts of their research to a short deadline.
- Discuss key environmental sustainability and wildlife conservation issues, particularly with regards to global sustainability and ethical conservation programmes in tropical environments.
This course takes place in June and combines hands-on biological fieldwork with studying conservation-related ecological issues in Costa Rica. The first week is spent experiencing several key places of ecological, sustainability and conservation interest from the pre-montane mountain ranges, tropical rainforests to beaches off the Pacific coastline. Sites chosen highlight climatic and biotic diversity in Costa Rica. Students will be introduced to the practicalities of studying tropical organisms and also witness conservation and sustainability-related activities first-hand. Study visits include a boat tour of mangroves, birdwatching visits to important transitional and tropical forests, along with visits to sustainable botanical gardens with cacao farm.
Fieldwork is an important component of this course and in the second week, whilst based at La Selva Biological Station, students will conduct individual research projects. Students formulate working hypotheses and experimental plans and carry out their own data collection. They then analyse their data and write up their research in a concise scientific report.
Over the course of the unit, students will gain a good understanding of the natural history of local plants and animals in Costa Rica together with the research principles involved in studying tropical organisms in their natural environment. Throughout the course we will consider global conservation and sustainability concerns and use Costa Rica as a model to evaluate conservation efforts.
- Analytical skills
- In the project write-up students have to show analytical skills.
- Group/team working
- Students work cooperatively in the field
- Creativity needed in designing the project and also in the field note book, which includes drawings.
- Project management
- Students have to complete a project in the last 7 days of field-course.
- Oral communication
- Students give a presentation on the final day of the field course.
- Problem solving
- Students design and complete their own project which will require problem solving throughout.
- Individual project is a field-based research project.
- Written communication
- Written assessment of project and notes in field note book.
Report - Independent project write-up, max. 5 pages (50%)
Portfolio - Reflective field notebook (35%)
Oral presentation - 10 mins including questions (10%)
Student’s contribution to the field course as a whole (5%).
Oral feedback during course, written feedback on notebook and the final report.
- Mostly primary research literature with articles and links provided on Blackboard
|Scheduled activity hours
|Independent study hours