This module will provide first-hand experience of ecology and conservation in a tropical environment and give you a foundation in a range of topics including biodiversity, community ecology, ecosystem processes, anthropogenic impacts, in-situ and ex-situ conservation, and protected areas. Tropical forests are some of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth and play critical roles in global biogeochemical cycles and climate regulation. However, they are undergoing rapid transformation through deforestation and land-use change. Alongside developing research skills this module will provide an opportunity for students to develop an understanding of how these ecosystems function and an appreciation of conservation and management of tropical forests. The two-week field course will take place in Belize, Central America. We will visit 3 key sites, including the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Centre and the Las Cuevas Research Station. The Las Cuevas Research Station will be the primary field site and is located within the Chiquibul forest, which is part of the largest block of intact tropical forest north of the Amazon. Throughout the course there will be a strong emphasis on practical training. Key topics will be introduced during a series of lectures and talks, and then developed through workshops and structured field activities. The first half of the course will be spent learning about ecological and conservation issues and key equipment and field techniques for monitoring and conducting biodiversity surveys. Students will then use the remaining time to design and carry out their own supervised small group research projects.
Teaching sessions will be accompanied by practical work which involves animal observation, with alternatives in place if required to meet minimum learning outcomes.
Pre-requisite: BIOL1029 or GGES1004 or ENVS1008