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The University of Southampton

BIOL3053 Biodiversity and Conservation

Module Overview

This module concerns global biodiversity, what we understand by it and why it is in crisis, and current efforts to conserve and manage it. We begin with an appraisal of different values of diversity at scales from genetic to species, communities and ecosystems. We then consider the causes and consequences of losing biodiversity, the nature and scale of its loss, countermeasures at global, national and local scales, and the costs we may face in replacing services that depend on biodiversity. During the second half of the module, we take a community ecology approach, focusing on interactions between species, rather than species per se. We look at networks of interactions, and consider how they have been used to address practical issues in conservation. Finally, we consider global impacts on ecosystems, how they interact with one another, and how we might mitigate their impacts. The module seeks to engage discussion and debate,and inform opinion, on biodiversity and conservation.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Describe the global biodiversity crisis.
  • Write a review article on a topical aspect of biodiversity and/or conservation.
  • Outline the main reasons for decline and threats to biodiversity worldwide.
  • Argue the case for and against conserving biodiversity.
  • Evaluate the pros and cons of species introductions and reintroductions
  • Understand the importance of conserving ecological interactions.
  • Describe ecological networks and what they can tell us.
  • Discuss examples of how ecological networks can be used in conservation.
  • Appreciate how different global impacts can interact to affect ecosystems.
  • Outline ways in which we could mitigate global impacts on ecosystems.


The module begins by defining concepts and scales relevant to biodiversity and its conservation. We will have a workshop early on about the damaging impacts of invasive species on biodiversity, which raises important issues about paying for our past misuses of the environment. We then cover causes and consequences of biodiversity loss and ways of measuring it. We consider efforts to tackle the biodiversity crisis at global, national and local scales. The second half of the module focuses on interactions between species and what we can gain from looking at interactions rather than species. We look at networks of interactions and consider how a network approach provides a tool for addressing practical issues in conservation. Finally, we consider global impacts on ecosystems, how different global impacts might interact with one another, and how we might mitigate their impacts.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, workshops, independent study, and a review assignment.

Independent Study128
Total study time150



MethodPercentage contribution
Written assessment 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Written assessment 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


There are no additional costs associated with this module

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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