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REN2201 Ecological Methods

Semester 2, 2022 Toowoomba On-campus
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences
School or Department : School of Agriculture and Environmental Science
Student contribution band : Band 2
Grading basis : Graded
Version produced : 17 May 2022


Examiner: Kathryn Reardon-Smith


Pre-requisite: STA1003


The study of the environment and its biodiversity necessitates an understanding of the basic approaches and methods in ecology. This includes ecological sampling, survey and research design, techniques for ecological data analysis and presentation, and the application of concepts and techniques to current ecological management issues. Knowledge of quantitative laboratory, field and analytical techniques is also critical for the effective management of natural resources. This course provides the fundamental knowledge and practical skills in ecological and environmental methods for students interested in professional careers as environmental scientists, field biologists, ecologists, wildlife managers and conservation biologists.

The unit provides a general overview of, and practical and theoretical considerations in, current ecological and environmental methods. Broad concepts in ecological methods are explored by simulation and field practical examples through a combination of independent and collaborative approaches. This unit provides a foundation in ecological methods through the exploration of the types and properties of ecological and biophysical data, sampling organisms and the environment, the design of ecological experiments, and analysis, interpretation and reporting of ecological data.

This course contains a mandatory residential school for both external and on-campus students in the form of an extended (overnight) field trip to USQ's Ravensbourne Field Studies Centre, Toowoomba. Accommodation, food and transport costs may be associated with this residential school.

Course learning outcomes

On completion of this course students should be able to:

  1. describe the scientific process of ecological experimentation, its limitations and applications, and the types and properties of ecological data;
  2. apply knowledge and skills in the sampling of animal and plant populations and the theoretical considerations involved;
  3. apply sampling theory and relate this to the study of organisms and communities in the field;
  4. critically review and apply appropriate graphical and statistical techniques to analyse ecological data and accurately interpret patterns;
  5. actively participate and collaborate in simulated and field practical activities applying ecological methods and experimentation.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Ecological experiments and data 10.00
2. Sampling and experimental design 12.00
3. Estimating abundance and dispersion 16.00
4. Estimating community parameters 16.00
5. Analysis and interpretation of ecological data 16.00
6. Application of field ecology techniques 30.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

Henderson, P.A. & Southwood, T.R.E. 2016, Ecological Methods, 4th edn, Wiley-Blackwell, Australia.
(ISBN: 978-1-118-89528-3.)

Student workload expectations

To do well in this subject, students are expected to commit approximately 10 hours per week including class contact hours, independent study, and all assessment tasks. If you are undertaking additional activities, which may include placements and residential schools, the weekly workload hours may vary.

Assessment details

Approach Type Description Group
Weighting (%) Course learning outcomes
Assignments Written Quiz A1 of 3 No 10 1,2,3,4
Assignments Written Quiz A2 of 3 No 10 1,2,3,4
Assignments Written Report 1 No 20 1,2,3,4,5
Assignments Written Quiz A3 of 3 No 10 1,2,3,4
Assignments Written Report 2 No 50 1,2,3,4,5
Date printed 17 May 2022