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BIOL6091 Wildlife Conservation

Module Overview

Students will recognise and demonstrate an understanding of conservation issues along a spectrum ranging from individual animals, through to populations (including conservation genetics), reintroductions, habitat restoration and anthropogenic sources of conflict. Based on case studies of ongoing conservation work this module highlights a solution-conscious approach to the challenges faced by the modern conservationist. We will discuss the biological components of species integrity, from molecular genetics, to morphology, to behaviour, and interactions with environment (e.g.functional niches), through to ecosystem functioning. Students will consider the role of species’ life histories and individual differences in selective processes in human-dominated environments; the preservation of species integrity in zoos, human-dominated landscapes, in protected areas and beyond, into the wild (however we define it). We will evaluate exactly what it is we are conserving and consider what is important, the species itself or the process that produced it? The module includes a 10 day field trip to one of Marwell Wildlife's conservation and research sites. A combination of theoretical and practical field sessions will allow students to develop expertise in a variety of techniques required for ecological surveying and monitoring of wildlife. Through facilitated discussion, students will compare, contrast and critically evaluate success and limitations of data gained on the field course. Emphasis is placed upon how these approaches are crucial for informing conservation decision-making, relating to wildlife.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

- Expand and enhance knowledge of the underlying conceptual and theoretical framework required by conservation biologists - Understand the value and limitations of applying biological principles and wildlife conservation tools to real-world challenges - Develop practical knowledge about surveying and monitoring wildlife in a conservation context - Evaluate limitations associated with surveying, including health and safety, and social, cultural and economic aspects

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • A wide selection of topics currently at the frontiers of research and many of the specialist techniques used to investigate them.
  • A solution-conscious approach to the challenges faced by the modern conservationist.
  • Applying conceptual and theoretical frameworks to conservation biology.
  • The limitations and challenges associated with surveying in order to gather field-based systematic data from individuals, populations and communities.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Critically analyse, synthesise, interpret and summarise complex scientific information.
  • Application of methodology to collect, record and analyse data.
  • Synthesise and integrate relevant scientific literature.
  • Undertake field investigations in a responsible and safe manner, paying due attention to risk assessment, ethical approval, rights of access, relevant health and safety regulations, and sensitivity to the impact of investigations on the environment and stakeholders.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Critical use of a range of resources as a source of information, means of communication and data dissemination.

Syllabus

Students will learn about the scope of wildlife conservation as practised by Marwell Wildlife. The module reflects the specific specialisms within the team of conservation biologists ranging from: wildlife monitoring and spatial analyses; remote sensing and the opportunities provided by emerging technology; trans-border conservation; reintroduction and post release activities, habitat restoration and ecology of threatened species; and the role of human communities in modern conservation. The focus throughout is on understanding the principles that sit behind conservation work, with an emphasis on their translation into real-world projects. The module will be taught as three themes: wildlife conservation; species integrity; fieldwork techniques. Wildlife Conservation Principles: will provide students with the knowledge of the underlying conceptual and theoretical framework required by conservation biologists. Students will recognize and demonstrate an understanding of conservation issues along a spectrum ranging from individual animals, through to populations, reintroductions, habitat restoration and anthropogenic sources of conflict. Species Integrity: we will discuss the biological components of species integrity, from molecular genetics, to morphology, to behaviour, and interactions with environment. Fieldwork Techniques: students will be introduced to a host of tools 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. Students will visit one of Marwell’s conservation science sites and seek to understand the context and complexities of conserving species and habitats at that location. Small groups of students will undertake a small survey devised with Marwell Conservation Biologists, to allow them to understand and apply field survey techniques. Tutorials will consider wildlife conservation from a broader context, bringing together the three themes. Students will complete a reflective notebook based on discussions during tutorials.

Special Features

This module showcases the research expertise of Marwell Wildlife’s conservation biologists, providing students with contemporary knowledge and a forum for its critical evaluation. In addition, students will gain an invaluable insight into the difficulties faced by the modern conservationist, fostering a ‘solution-conscious’ approach to wildlife conservation. 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 self-directed learning activities and 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. Project work will be undertaken in small groups. Students who are unable to access the field site will be able to be involved in all aspects of project planning and analysis, and group presentation. The site of the field course will be considered depending on individual needs.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, seminars and tutorials will provide opportunity to expand your knowledge base, contribute to discussions around that knowledge, refine skills in scientific writing and enhance your critical evaluation. The field course will provide a mixture of learning experiences, including informal demonstrations, discussions, meetings with stakeholders and community members, and supervised practical sessions when students will undertake the field component of their group small survey. Student groups will be accompanied throughout the field course by Marwell Wildlife’s Conservation Biologists.

TypeHours
Independent Study278
Lecture40
Tutorial12
Fieldwork88
Practical8
Seminar24
Total study time450

Resources & Reading list

Academic skills http://library.soton.ac.uk/sash.

Mental health and wellbeing.

Assessment

Formative

Tutorial

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Individual Presentation 10%
Reflective Journal 20%
Written assignment 70%

Referral

MethodPercentage contribution
Written assignment 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Costs

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:

Field Trips

Visa and vaccinations: Students must pay for travel to UK airport, visas and vaccinations associated with the field trip to Kenya (flights and accommodation are included in course fees)

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 www.calendar.soton.ac.uk.

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