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REN2200 Ecology for Sustainability

Semester 1, 2012 External Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Sciences
School or Department : Biological & Physical Sciences

Contents on this page


Examiner: Andy Le Brocque
Moderator: Joachim Ribbe

Other requisites

Students are required to have access to a personal computer, e-mail capabilities and Internet access to UConnect. Current details of computer requirements can be found at <//>


Knowledge of ecological systems and processes and their contribution to our understanding of the effects of human activities on biodiversity and the environment has become essential for the future sustainable management of the earth's natural resources and the conservation of biodiversity. This course aims to provide an understanding of the fundamentals of ecological theory and practice and its contribution to sustainability, and an overview of human impacts on ecological systems and processes. This course is of particular relevance to students wishing to pursue careers in biology, environmental science, natural resource management, environmental education, environmental engineering and spatial science.


Ecology and conservation are closely related scientific disciplines that explore the very nature of life in terms of the distribution and abundance of organisms and interactions between organisms and their environment (ecology), and the diversity, scarcity and conservation of species, communities and ecosystems (conservation). This course provides a foundation in general ecological concepts and principles relevant to the sustainable management of the environment and an understanding of how ecological systems and processes have been impacted upon by human activities. The concept of biodiversity, mechanisms behind speciation and patterns in biodiversity, key threatening processes, and current issues in the conservation of biodiversity are examined. The course also examines concepts of pattern and processes in human-modified landscapes (including land transformation, habitat fragmentation, patch dynamics, conservation corridors and connectivity), implications for conservation and ecological sustainability.


On successful completion of this course, students should be able to:

  1. demonstrate an understanding of the nature of ecology and the scientific method within which it operates;
  2. demonstrate an understanding the basic principles and underlying concepts of ecology and how these may apply to sustainable environmental and resource management;
  3. demonstrate an understanding the nature and dynamics of ecological populations, communities and ecosystems;
  4. evaluate the impacts of human activities on ecological systems and processes;
  5. compare and evaluate the influence of major drivers of landscape pattern and change on ecological processes;
  6. assess and contrast threatening processes to global biodiversity;
  7. evaluate current and potential conservation problems in their region;
  8. integrate knowledge of biodiversity and conservation into environmental and resource management;
  9. critically analyse ecological information and data to provide informed decision-making in relation to resource management.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Ecology and the Environment 15.00
2. Species, Population and Biotic Interactions 20.00
3. Communities and Ecosystems 20.00
4. Biodiversity & Conservation 22.00
5. Landscapes, Connectivity and Fragmentation 23.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

  • Krebs, CJ 2009, Ecology: the experimental analysis of distribution and abundance, 6th edn, Benjamin Cummings, San Francisco.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
  • Dodson SI, Allen TFH, Carpenter SR, Elliot K, Ives AR, Jeanne RL, Kitchel LJF, Langston NE & Turner M 1999, The international news magazine of book publishing and bookselling, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Groom, MJ, Meffe GK & Carroll, CR 2005, Principles of conservation biology, 3rd edn, Sinauer & Associates Inc, Sunderland, MA.
  • Krebs, CJ 2008, Ecological world view, CSIRO Publishing, Canberra.
  • Miller, GT 2009, Living in the environment: principles, connections and solutions, 15th edn, Thomson Brooks/Cole, Pacific Grove, CA.
  • Smith TM & Smith RL 2009, Elements of ecology, 7th edn, Pearson International Edition, Pearson Benjamin Cummings, San Francisco.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Assignments 40.00
Directed Study 52.00
Examinations 2.00
Online Tests 2.00
Private Study 70.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
Online Quiz 1 50 15 26 Mar 2012 (see note 1)
Assignment 1 10 5 16 Apr 2012 (see note 2)
Online Quiz 2 50 15 30 Apr 2012 (see note 3)
Assignment 2 60 25 21 May 2012 (see note 4)
2HR Restiricted Examination 120 40 End S1 (see note 5)

  1. Online Quizzes will be undertaken via the course StudyDesk and each must be completed in a single session within the specified period
  2. Assignments must be submitted via the Electronic Assignment Submission Environment (EASE) on the course StudyDesk
  3. Online Quizzes will be undertaken via the course StudyDesk and each must be completed in a single session within the specified period
  4. Assignments must be submitted via the Electronic Assignment Submission Environment (EASE) on the course StudyDesk
  5. Examination dates will be available during the Semester. Please refer to the examination timetable when published.

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    It is the students' responsibility to attend and participate appropriately in all activities (such as lectures, tutorials, laboratories and practical work) scheduled for them, and to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    50% of the marks or a grade of at least C. (Depending upon the requirements in Statement 4 below, students may not have to satisfactorily complete each assessment item to receive a passing grade in this course.)

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    If students submit assignments after the due date without prior approval then a penalty of up to 5% of the total marks available for the assignment will apply for each working day late.

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the weighted aggregate of the marks (grades) obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    This is a restricted examination. Candidates are allowed access only to specific materials during a Restricted Examination. The only materials that candidates may use in the restricted examination for this course are: writing materials (non-electronic and free from material which could give the student an unfair advantage in the examination). Students whose first language is not English, may, take an appropriate unmarked non-electronic translation dictionary (but not technical dictionary) into the examination. Dictionaries with any handwritten notes will not be permitted. Translation dictionaries will be subject to perusal and may be removed from the candidate's possession until appropriate disciplinary action is completed if found to contain material that could give the candidate an unfair advantage.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Any Deferred or Supplementary examinations for this course will normally be held during the next examination period.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. The due date for an assignment is the date by which a student must despatch the assignment to the USQ via the electronic assignment submission environment (EASE) on the course website. The onus is on the student to provide proof of the despatch date, if requested by the Examiner. Students must retain a copy of each item submitted for assessment. This must be produced within five days if required by the Examiner. In the event that a due date for an assignment falls on a local public holiday in their area, such as a Show holiday, the due date for the assignment will be the next day.

  2. Students who, for medical, family/personal, or employment-related reasons, are unable to complete an assignment or to sit for an examination at the scheduled time may apply to defer an assessment in a course. Such a request must be accompanied by appropriate supporting documentation. One of the following temporary grades may be awarded IDS (Incomplete-Deferred Examintion); IDM (Incomplete Deferred Make-up); IDB (Incomplete - Both Deferred Examination and Deferred Make-up).

  3. Students must use the assignment template (.doc or .docx document) provided on the course Website for electronic submission of assignments. The templates include an assignment cover page and marking criteria and must be submitted in a Microsoft Office Word 2007 compatible format.

  4. In accordance with Faculty of Sciences and USQ regulations, applications for extensions to assignment due dates must be made in writing to the Examiner before the assignment due date. Applications for extensions must be accompanied by appropriate documentary evidence.