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The University of Southampton

BIOL2041 New Forest field course

Module Overview

This module will provide you with valuable ecological surveying and species identification techniques within the context of conservation priorities for a local and unique national park, the New Forest, through a series of day trips in order to complete a research project. You will be able to build on the taxonomic skills you gained in BIOL1001. You will focus on UK wildlife and identify to species level, a valuable employability skill, particularly if you are interested in pursuing a career in ecological consultancy. The New Forest national park is a mosaic of ancient and ornamental woodland, open heaths, rivers and valley mires, with a coastline of mudflats and saltmarshes. The variety of habitat types means there is a huge diversity of plant and animal species, including 29 nationally important species. As a result the New Forest has a designated Special Area of Conservation, a Special Protection Area and a Ramsar site, which together cover 29,000 hectares. These conservation areas and the New Forest national park are managed by a partnership of organisations, all with the aim of restoring and maintaining biodiversity. This requires not only knowledge of the New Forest and also practical skills, such as ecological surveying and species identification, in order to provide evidence-based recommendations for management. The skills gained in this module will allow you design and implement a research project which will contribute to the New Forest Landscape Partnership's priority 4a) Biodiversity monitoring: to identify sites for restoration, enhancement and improved management. Your research project will also align with the New Forest's Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP). As a result your project findings will provide evidence-based recommendations for management of the New Forest national park and conservation areas. The real-world focus of the research project will require the more advanced skills taught in this module, building on those covered in the first year field course.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Design a biodiversity assessment survey
  • Use species identification keys and other relevant resources to identify specimens collected
  • How to analyse biodiversity
  • Interpretation of biodiversity variation in relation to conservation management
  • Understand the difficulties and conflicts which are an intrinsic part of managing a site with such variation in habitat types and land use. The New Forest Land Partnership has identified its 4 priorities in order to ensure optimal management for the interests of different stakeholders
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Sampling and identification of local wildlife species in order to assess biodiversity (highly valued by ecological consultants)
  • Present results and suggested outcomes of your biodiversity survey in an oral presentation and also a written report to provide information about your study rationale, design, findings and evidence-based interpretations
  • Demonstrate team working skills, during field work and in producing the oral presentation
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Consider social, cultural and economic influences on conservation of species/habitats in the New Forest
  • Demonstrate creativity and enthusiasm, both essential for field work


Introductory lectures will explain the aims of the module and provide details about assessment requirements and deadlines. You will also be provided with information about the New Forest and its unique wildlife, which you have been given a privileged opportunity to conduct a biodiversity survey within, in order to contribute to the Landscape Partnership Scheme’s priorities and the New Forest Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP). Tutorials will and lectures will guide you through the stages implementing research in the field. - Preparation: researching the context of your research project; planning a survey; piloting the survey; practising species identification skills; fine-tuning the survey design. Independent study time between trips to the New Forest should be used to not order research the literature but also to develop practical skills, such as by practicing species identification skills on the wildlife of Southampton Common. This will allow you to make the most of field work days. During field work days, you will work on a research project in a pair. You will have support from members of staff and demonstrators - Field work: conducting the survey and collecting specimens. We will visit the New Forest for 4 field work days. - Analysis: identifying collected samples and analysing data. A computer practical will allow you to consider how study design impacts on data analysis. - Evaluation: interpretation and evaluation of research project findings. This will includes evidence-based recommendations for conservation management, related to the New Forest BAP and Landscape Partnership. - Dissemination of project findings: production of a written report and an oral presentation

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Study time allocation [Contact time includes: Lectures, seminars, tutorials, project supervision, demonstration, practicals/workshops/fieldwork/external visits/work based learning] Contact time: 50 Private study hours: 100 Total study time: 150 Teaching and Learning Methods [List all types of learning methods, with a brief description of what that entails, e.g. Formal Lectures will provide an introduction to …..; Practical sessions will exemplify the theory and allow you to develop Before the field days (2 hours lectures) During 4 day trips to the New Forest (32 hours during field supervision and facilitation of survey, 1 3-hour data analysis session in computer lab) After the 4 days trips (2 hours lectures) Throughout the semester (7 hours tutorials, 4-hours of input from Landscape Partnership members, such as the New Forest National Park Authority and/or the Forestry Commission 100 hours independent study)

Practical classes and workshops3
Completion of assessment task40
Wider reading or practice20
Preparation for scheduled sessions20
Follow-up work20
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Heinzel et al. A field Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe, North Africa and Middle East. 

Ruxton G.D. and Colegrave N. Experimental design for the life sciences. 

Barnard C., Gilbert F. and McGregor P. Asking questions in Biology. 

Polunin O. and Smythies B.E. Flowers of S.W. Europe. 

Hubbard, C.E. Grasses: a guide to their structure, identification, uses and distribution. 

Poland J.P and Clement E.J. The vegetative key to the British Flora. 

Chinery M. A field Guide to the Insects of Britain and Northern Europe. 

Wheater C.P, Bell J.R. and Cook P.A. Practical Field Ecology. 


Assessment Strategy

For features such as field courses, information should be included as to how students with special needs will be enabled to benefit from this or an equivalent experience. Required permits will be obtained for research project work in the New Forest. Project work in the New Forest will be undertaken in pairs for health and safety reasons. Students who are unable to access the field site due to illness on all 4 field site visit days, will be required to collect data for an alternative project over the summer holidays. For student with disabilities, the site for data collection will be considered on any individual basis, to attempt to find a location suitable for the student. If this is not possible, an alternative methods of assessment will be considered, perhaps using a pre-existing data set from an external partner.


MethodPercentage contribution
Individual report 75%
Poster Presentation 25%


MethodPercentage contribution
Individual report 75%
Poster Presentation 25%

Linked modules

Pre-requisites: BIOL1003, BIOL1001 and BIOL1004

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