|Delivery Type||Delivery length / details|
|Lecture||3 x 1 hour lectures per week|
|Practical||5 x 3 hour practicals|
|Assessment Type||Assessment length / details||Proportion|
|Semester Assessment||Practical Test||25%|
|Semester Exam||3 Hours Written examination||75%|
|Supplementary Assessment||3 Hours Candidates must take elements of assessment equivalent to those that led to failure of the module||100%|
On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
1. demonstrate a sound understanding of the nature of living systems in freshwater environments
2. explain the processes which control the functioning of lake and river ecosystems
3. identify the principal groups of freshwater invertebrates
4. describe the feeding habits and habitat requirements of the major groups of freshwater organisms.
This module aims to introduce students to the organisms and processes that characterize freshwater ecosystems, through an integrated series of lectures and practical classes. It covers a range of freshwater habitats from the smallest rivers to the largest lakes, and a range of organisms from viruses to vertebrates. It also takes account of the impact of human activity on all of these.
The section on lake biology includes a review of primary producers and their principal characteristics. It covers seasonal variation in relation to stratification, the role of the microbial and bacterial/viral loops. The section also deals with zooplankton, their place in open water trophic webs, including bottom-up and top-down controls on the functioning of open water systems. It concludes with the biology of the benthos, including macrophytes.
In dealing with river systems, the theme is the spatial pattern imposed by changing conditions from the headwater to the estuary. The nature of, and factors affecting, biofilms/ periphyton in rivers is covered with some discussion of macrophyte production. Relationships between physical conditions and biological assemblages are described, together with the role of biotic interactions in determining the structure of stream invertebrate assemblages. Physical disturbance is discussed as is the concept of patch dynamics at a variety of of spatial scales. A section on the dynamics of organic matter in streams provides a link with the section on lakes. Vertebrate assemblages in freshwater systems and the longitudinal zonation of vertebrates along European rivers is described in relation to abiotic factors.
The final section of the course deals with human impacts, paying particular attention to organic pollution, eutrophication and their treatment. This links with earlier discussions of primary productivity. The course concludes with examination of methods of monitoring river water quality.
The practical classes are based on investigation of the invertebrate communities of a local river and the littoral habitat of a small lake. These provide experience of simple techniques for sampling in the field and handling and preserving material in the lab., serving to illustrate many of the topics covered in the preceding lectures.
|Skills Type||Skills details|
|Application of Number||Using basic analytical techniques to assess and interpret data from practical classes|
|Communication||Reading from a variety of sources in support of course content. Providing written responses to examination questions. Listening effectively in class.|
|Improving own Learning and Performance||Self-testing of taxonomic skills in the final practical session|
|Information Technology||Accessing and interpreting class data provided in electronic format. Appropriate use of internet and e-journals.|
|Personal Development and Career planning||Gaining confidence in understanding key concepts in freshwater biology, and through developing awareness of personal interests and skills in relation to potential career paths|
|Problem solving||Through an understanding of the principal factors influencing the functioning of freshwater ecosystems|
|Research skills||Experience of basic methods of data collection in freshwater habitats, assessment and evaluation of results|
|Subject Specific Skills||Basic taxonomy of freshwater organisms. Understanding of precautions and safety issues in freshwater field and laboratory work|
|Team work||Through co-operating effectively in groups during the practical classes in the field and laboratory|
This module is at CQFW Level 5