The University of Southampton
Courses

BIOL3056 Global Change Biology

Module Overview

This course will consider current global climate change and the impact that change is having on biological systems and associated ecosystem services. We will begin by considering the main greenhouse gases and how temperature and rainfall are likely to change over future decades. The responses of biological systems to increased temperature, altered rainfall and the major greenhouse gas, CO2 will then be described. A series of case studies will move from molecule to cell to organism, populations and communities including impacts of ocean acidification, impacts on global food security, forests and coastal systems. Both plants and animals will be considered and the latest research findings presented, including options for mitigating the impacts of change using biological systems such as bioenergy plants and biochar. The second part of the course will focus on ecosystem services – the benefits humans obtain from ecosystems. We will first focus on methodological approaches used to map and value ecosystem services, and the examine key issues in this area such as the relationship between ecosystem services and biodiversity, the importance of ecosystem services for poverty alleviation, as well as cutting edge models for modelling and projecting future patterns of ecosystem services under climate change scenarios.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

To provide: a) An understanding of current global change, in relation to anthropogenic influences b) To quantify the impacts of change, particularly atmospheric CO2, drought and temperature changes on biological systems, including plants, crops, forests, ocean and coastal ecosystems c) To provide examples from molecular through to ecosystem on the likely impacts on change, using both animals and plants for case studies d) To provide an overview of the ecosystem services concept and the methodological approaches to quantifying and mapping ecosystem services

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Definition of recent global changes and alterations occurred and predicted for atmospheric CO2, temperature and rainfall
  • Understanding of the likely effects of raised atmospheric CO2 and temperature on biological systems
  • Understanding the likely impact of change on future food and biofuel supplies
  • Understand how species differ in their response to change
  • Understanding of the concept of ecosystem services
  • Understanding and application of ecosystem services methodological approaches
  • Examine relationships between ecosystem services and biodiversity
  • Understand the importance of ecosystem services for poverty alleviation
  • Understand cutting edge models being used for predicting future patterns of ecosystems services under climate change

Syllabus

This course will consider current global climate change and the impact that change is having on biological systems. We will begin by considering the main greenhouse gases and how temperature and rainfall are likely to change over future decades. The responses of biological systems to increased temperature, altered rainfall and the major greenhouse gas, CO2 will then be considered, beginning with plastic acclimation to change, followed by adaptive mechanisms and microevolution. A series of case studies will move from molecule to cell to organism, populations and communities. Both plants and animals will be considered and the latest research findings presented, including options for mitigating the impacts of change using biological systems and adaptations to change. The second part of the course will focus on ecosystem services – the benefits humans obtain from ecosystems. We will first focus on methodological approaches used to map and value ecosystem services, and the examine key issues in this area such as the relationship between ecosystem services and biodiversity, the importance of ecosystem services for poverty alleviation, as well as cutting edge models for modeling and projecting future patterns of ecosystem services under climate change scenarios.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures and seminars, independent study, writing a concise research paper. The module is also assessed with a written unseen exam at the end of the semester.

TypeHours
Independent Study128
Lecture22
Total study time150

Assessment

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Literature review 25%
Written exam  (2 hours) 75%

Referral

MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 25%
Written exam  (2 hours) 75%
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