Module Information

Module Identifier
BR23620
Module Title
Arctic Ecology Field Course
Academic Year
2015/2016
Co-ordinator
Semester
Semester 1
Pre-Requisite
External Examiners
  • Dr Anita Diaz (Senior Lecturer - Bournemouth University)
 
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Field Trip 1 x 90 Hour Field Trip
Workshop 2 x 2 Hour Workshops
 

Assessment

Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment In field assessments  (Plant ID, assessment of field notebooks, field handbook test)  30%
Semester Assessment Project report  (A 2500 word scientific report on a hypothesis led project in the field with data collected in groups but written up individually).  70%
Supplementary Assessment Candidates must take elements of assessment equivalent to those that led to failure of the module.  100%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Identify the main species and biotic components / processes within this area.

2. Survey plants, habitats and communities in the area.

3. Sustainably collect data to describe and assess systems in preparation for research report.

4. Appreciate current threats and risks to arctic systems and understand conservation priorities.

5. Complete a research project written in the style of a scientific paper.

Brief description

This module will describe, discuss and investigate semi-pristine high latitude ecosystems, including the structure and function of plants, communities and animal habitats. It will explore the organization and function of these globally important ecosystems which are important in terms of conservation but also internationally recognized carbon stores vulnerable to current / future climate changes. The module will consider biotic and abiotic interactions and students will gain a detailed understanding about energy and cycling of resources. They will also explore the concepts of resistance and resilience with emphasis on ecosystem responses to ongoing climatic changes.

Content

Evidence suggests that future global warming will rapidly impact Arctic ecosystems and biodiversity (IPCC 2007). There is already strong evidence of ongoing environmental changes in this region. Global warming is happening far more rapidly in the Arctic than other parts of the globe with rapid, impacting deleterious effects on biodiversity.
The Arctic Ecology field course will study the ecology of the Abisko valley region of Northern Sweden (68'r) where there is evidence of significant climatic and biodiversity changes over the last decades. Students will investigate peak growing season biomass (species ID and community diversity) plus the onset of autumn senescence process (August). They will also visit a wide range of internationally recognized experiments simulating future Global Climate Change scenarios on arctic vegetation. Field training field excursions will potentially include visits and surveying of alpine tundra sites, boreal forests and ombotrophic mires. The course will start with health and safety assessment, group exercise, basic plant ID training. This will be followed by three days of intensive formative and assessed field training and a test based around the field handbook (30% of module). Students will next complete a four day group research project at the research station involving data collection, analysis and reporting. The last day will provide students with the opportunity to finally discuss data and organize their independent report (70%) before departure. Students will submit their report during the first week of Semester 1.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Analysis of data for a research project report.
Communication We will assess communication by their: i) Ability to record, collate and share data. ii) written communication via scientific report.
Improving own Learning and Performance Feedback will be provided on the students' field notebooks during the field course to allow students to develop their skills. We will also use formative learning (e.g. Plant ID) to develop student skills and knowledge.
Information Technology Data analysis and presentation.
Personal Development and Career planning 1. Conducting fieldwork in a high latitude environment is demanding activity. It opens horizons for students in terms of seeing a new part of the world and gives them confidence in their abilities to overcome challenges. 2. A key premise of this module is that students are involved directly in activities that help to conserve the nature reserve that they are working within. 3. Provides students with a clearer picture of what a career in science and/or conservation involves. Also makes them consider possibilities outside of the UK.
Problem solving From the logistics of organizing their own travel to the rigors of conducting fieldwork in the Arctic. This module will thoroughly test the students' problem solving ability. The key component assessed is the project element.
Research skills The central aim of this module is that students learn through research. All assessments test research skills.
Subject Specific Skills Plant identification and field survey skills.
Team work Students will work within teams to carry out research in the Arctic environment but this will be indirectly assessed.

Notes

This module is at CQFW Level 5