Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Dynamic Biogeography
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 10 x 3 hrs
Other 2 x 5 hr field trips to nature reserves and National Botanic Garden Wales


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Learning log:  1-2 page reflections on material learnt, including student's ideas, comments, and responses to lectures and seminar discussions.  20%
Semester Assessment Seminar:  1 team-presented seminar  20%
Semester Assessment Essay:  1 essay of no more than 4000 words  60%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmission of coursework report.  Resubmit revised essay, 4000 words maximum (80%) Resubmit learning log (20%)   100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate understanding of the ecological and evolutionary responses by plant and animal populations to environmental change at a variety of space and time scales. (BCD 1, 2)
  2. Analyse the implications of these biotic responses for biodiversity conservation during current climatic change and habitat degradation (BCD 3, 4)
  3. Synthesise current research and debate in the subject area from recent scientific publications, and from media reports (BCD 5)
  4. Present verbal, graphic, and written summaries of current research topics in concise and accessible format (BCD 5)
  5. Evaluate the contribution of biogeographical research to current issues in biodiversity conservation (BCD 6)
  6. Critically evaluate the ways in which current biodiversity issues are presented to the wider community via a range of media outlets ((BCD 6)
(BCD numbers refer to Bloom'r Taxonomy Cognitive Domain, skills 1-6)

Brief description

Module objectives:
- to explore how plant and animal populations respond to environmental change at a variety of space and time scales
- to gain an understanding of ecological, biogeographic, and evolutionary processes at population and community levels
- to become aware of, and critically evaluate, current research in biogeography, and its presentation in media reports


Origins, aims and scope of biogeography
Measuring and mapping biodiversity
Why are the tropics so species-rich?
Phylogeography: the genetic legacy of the Ice Ages
Variation within species: geographic evidence for natural selection
Island evolution: selection, speciation, radiation and extinction
Alien invaders: the introduction, spread and impacts of alien plants and animals
Mediterranean ecosystems: biodiversity, vegetation dynamics and conservation issues
Mountain ecosystems : endemic biodiversity, history, and conservation
Savanna ecosystems: biodiversity, fire ecology, and conservation.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Ability to understand, interpret and evaluate numerical datasets and diagrams will be developed. Course essays will provide an opportunity to collect and analyse datasets numerically.
Communication Students will learn how to present their ideas both verbally and in writing and how to present their arguments most effectively. They will understand the importance of information and clear communication to scientific and general audiences. They will learn to be clear in their writing and speaking and to be direct about aims and objectives. They will learn to consider only that which is relevant to the topic, focus and objectives of their argument or discussion. Lectures will include oral discussion especially following student seminars. Emphasis will be on student participation and communication.
Improving own Learning and Performance Via the learning logs, seminars and coursework, the module aims to promote self-directed learning, in a context in which support and assistance is available from both the module co-ordinator and fellow students. Students will be expected to improve their own learning and performance by undertaking their own research and to exercise their own initiative, including searching for sources, compiling reading lists, and deciding (with guidance) the direction of their coursework. The need to submit a major essay and to meet coursework deadlines will focus students' attention on the need to manage their time and opportunity resources well.
Information Technology Students will be expected to submit their work in word-processed format, via Blackboard. Also, students will be encouraged to search for sources of information on the web, as well as seeking sources through electronic information sources (such as Web of Science and OCLC). Students will also be expected to make use of the resources that will be made available on Blackboard.
Personal Development and Career planning Seminars and discussions will help to develop students' verbal and presentation skills. Media awareness will develop students’ ability to communicate science to the wider community. Planning coursework, framing the parameters of the essays, and seeing them through to completion will contribute towards students' portfolios of transferable skills.
Problem solving Coursework will provide an opportunity for students to pose research questions, formulate hypotheses, and to collect data from literature and web sources (e.g. biodiversity databases) to test their hypotheses, or answer their research questions.
Research skills Coursework will reflect the independent research skills of students, especially as it will be worth 80% of the overall module mark. The need to locate appropriate research resources and write up the results will also facilitate research skills.
Team work Group work is integral to the seminars and provides opportunities for students to reflect individually and collectively on their performance. Lectures and seminars will consist in part of small-group discussion where students will be obliged to discuss as a group the core issues related to class topics. Debates and discussions are a key part of the module learning experience.

Reading List

Recommended Text
Avise, J.C (2000) Phylogeography - the history and formation of species Harvard University Press Primo search Brown, J.H. and Lomolino, M.V (1998) Biogeography Sinauer Associates Primo search Gaston, K.J. and Spicer, J.I (1998) Biodiversity - an introduction Blackwell Primo search Hengeveld, R (1990) Dynamic Biogeography Cambridge University Press Primo search Hengeveld, R (1989) Dynamics of Biological Invasions Chapman Hall Primo search MacDonald, G Biogeography - Space, Time and Life Wiley Primo search Whittaker, R.J (1998) Island Biogegraphy - Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Oxford University Press Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 6