|Delivery Type||Delivery length / details|
|Lecture||15 x 1 hour lectures (three per week during first five weeks of Semester)|
|Practical||4 x 3 hour small mammal practicals|
|Other||Mid-term test 1.5 hours|
|Other||5-day field course (total 50 hours, during Easter vacation)|
|Assessment Type||Assessment length / details||Proportion|
|Semester Assessment||Mid-term test. 1.5 hour test, essay plus short answer questions.||30%|
|Semester Assessment||Small mammal practical report.||10%|
|Semester Assessment||Field course assessments.||20%|
|Semester Assessment||Field course research report.||40%|
|Supplementary Assessment||Students 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. appreciate current thinking about the nature of plant communities within landscapes
2. employ the terms used in plant and community identification and be confident in the field identification of a range of plants and animals.
3. appreciate the need for biological recording schemes and devise appropriate sampling strategies and recommend sampling techniques for a range of species, habitats and circumstances.
4. undertake a community survey, present and analyze their data. Summarizing results to appropriate scientific standards.
The module describes how plant communities are inter-related at the landscape scale. Within the landscape exists the basic matrix which includes patches of communities or complex mosaics. Both reflect the pattern of resources and constraints that occur within the landscape (in time and space). Landscapes can behave like "supersystems" and connectivity is important in their functioning. Populations of individual species may not be isolated, but form metapopulations which contribute to their stability. Changes in communities over time are considered looking at succession and "climax" vegetation. Human and natural phenomena affecting plant communities are considered and students will learn how to identify species and surveying skills in a range of contrasting Welsh habitats. Students will engage in five days of surveying skills during the Easter vacation. There will be no additional costs incurred but participants must organise their own accommodation.
Changes in communities over time are considered. Communities are not static, but change, often in apparently predictable ways. They may be directed by the sequence of species present (autogenic), or driven by environmental conditions that change over time (allogenic). The resource-ratio hypothesis has been suggested as the mechanism for "climax" vegetation, but multiple end points of change are evident within many areas.
Both human and natural phenomena affecting plant communities are considered. Grazing animals may show a high incidence of specialisation in shaping the composition of plant communities while fire naturally causes biomass removal in many landscapes. Human use may represent simple biomass removal, as in hay regimes, alternatively, it may be selective removing particular species or particular groups of individuals (such as a size class) for a particular use, thereby affecting the community. The description of plant communities and their distribution in space is discussed based on both numerical (ordination and classification) and descriptive phytosociological (represented by NVC) approaches.
For developing practical experience the students will be expected to :
i) Conduct a small mammal survey from week eight onwards: this will involve trapping and assessing small mammal populations locally.
ii) Undertake a local five day field course (during the Easter vacation). The aim is to establish expertise in plant species identification in a range of contrasting Welsh habitats including hedgerows and deciduous woodlands.
Students will receive guidance and instruction on the various techniques available for sampling and population assessment strategies (plants and animals). They will also describe communities and will look at soil characteristics.
|Skills Type||Skills details|
|Application of Number||Collection of data, analysis and interpretation of survey data for field assessments.|
|Communication||Assessed presentations during field course (integrated into main assessment).|
|Improving own Learning and Performance||Learning targeted in such a way as to improve performance over time. Examples of exam questions provided throughout module. Marks feedback and progress provided during field course.|
|Information Technology||Use of on-line resources.|
|Personal Development and Career planning||Provides practical skills and insight into surveying. Essential skills for any student interested in an Environmental career / Conservation.|
|Problem solving||Analysis of samples and data. Synthesis and assessments in practicals.|
|Research skills||Additional reading to support lecture content and researching for field assessments.|
|Subject Specific Skills||Identification of plants and animals|
|Team work||Group learning activities during the surveying days to develop team skills. Group collection of data for field assessment.|
This module is at CQFW Level 5