Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

BIOL6050 Techniques in monitoring and surveying

Module Overview

This module is a combination of theoretical and practical session to teach students about the techniques required for ecological surveying and monitoring of wildlife. Emphasis is placed upon how these approaches are crucial for informing conservation decision-making, relating to wildlife.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• To develop and enhance practical knowledge about surveying and monitoring wildlife in a conservation context • To appreciate the associated challenges in gathering systematic data from individuals, populations and communities

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • Evaluate current survey methods and apparatus, in terms of their appropriateness to particular conservation challenges
  • Determine how survey data can be used to develop conservation solutions
  • Understand the limitations and challenges of systematic data collection in a conservation context
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Use and maintain a number of pieces of surveying equipment
  • Apply techniques for gathering systematic data from individuals, populations and communities
  • Foster in yourself and others a ‘solution-conscious’ working approach to surveying and monitoring wildlife
  • Confidently and independently use equipment


This module will begin by outlining the value of monitoring wildlife across several levels (individuals, population and communities). Students will be introduced to a host of apparatus and equipment specific to monitoring and surveying wildlife, and encouraged to make use of the facilities at Marwell, to spend independent study time familiarising themselves with the items and becoming competent and confident in their use. Through a series of lectures and seminars, students will learn about the application of apparatus and equipment for specific survey methods e.g. mark-recapture, transects etc. An overview and introduction to the need for (in terms of 21st century conservation) and process of wildlife monitoring and surveying will be provided. Following this, a series of sessions setting out the context (lecture based) and application (practical based) of particular wildlife survey and monitoring techniques will be covered. Direct and indirect methods will be included e.g. use of transects, radio tracking, camera trapping, GIS and gathering information from local communities. The use of standard population management software by breeding programme managers will be covered. The historic context and background to these techniques will be provided, along with a strong emphasis upon their practical application and the skill of interpreting outcomes with an exceptional degree of competence. The context within which making exceptional objective and systematic observations of animal will be covered. Emphasis will also be placed on the need to develop technical and practical competence in collecting and interpreting these data.

Special Features

Students will make use of facilities at Marwell Wildlife to develop their skills with key pieces of equipment. This will include use of the animal collection in the zoo (e.g. practicing with camera traps in animal enclosures, enhancing field photography skills, learning how to use range finders to work out distance from an animal), as well as the surrounding parkland and woodlands where a series of practical demonstrations will be undertaken. Individual student needs will be taken into account to ensure full participation, where appropriate practical demonstrations will be tailored to those needs.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, demonstrations and seminars will be used to provide the theory, application and evaluation of surveying techniques.

Practical classes and workshops20
Independent Study100
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Horning, N. et al. Remote sensing for ecology and conservation. 

Sutherland, W.J. Ecological Census Techniques. 

Wheater, C.P. et al. Practical field ecology: a project guide. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Practical skills assessment 40%
Research proposal  (3000 words) 60%


MethodPercentage contribution
Practical skills assessment 40%
Research proposal  (3000 words) 60%
Share this module Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.