Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Ecological Surveying
Academic Year
Semester 2
Mutually Exclusive
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 3 x 1 hour lectures per week (18 hours)
Practical 5 x 2 hour practicals (2 hours daily over 5 days)
Other Mid-term test 1.5 hours
Other 5 day field course (45 hours)


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Test  1.5 hours. Short answers and one essay question  30%
Semester Assessment Small mammal practical report  (800 words)  10%
Semester Assessment Field course assessments  (Two illustrations; group presentation - approx. 7 minutes and ID test approx. 45 minutes)  20%
Semester Assessment Field course report  (2,500 words)  40%
Supplementary Assessment Students 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. 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.

Brief description

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.

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.


This modules aim to provide students with a thorough understanding on the theory and supportive practical evidence on how plants, communities and landscapes are formed and how they operate. It also explores the movement of animals within and between habitats. Through field work the students gain knowledge and skills in identifying plant, species, communities and habitats.


The module elaborates modern themes in community ecology. The nature of the community is discussed and how plant communities are inter-related at the landscape scale. Within the landscape it is possible to determine a basic matrix within which patches of other community types are encountered. Alternatively, complex mosaics may occur. Both reflect the pattern of resources and constraints that occur within a particular landscape in both time and space. In effect, landscapes can behave like "supersystems". Connectivity is important in the functioning of integrated landscapes, while populations of individual species may not be isolated, but rather, form metapopulations which contribute to their long-term stability.

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 main processes that have contributed to a breakdown of lowland systems are considered including: Perforation; Dissection; Fragmentation; Shrinkage and Attrition. Communities also change naturally over time via succession into "climax" vegetation and here we consider the theories of succession from its first description by Clements to the three theories including facilitation, tolerance and inhibition.

Week 1
Lecture 1: Introduction to the module
Lecture 2: Landscapes (I)
Lecture 3: Landscapes (II)

Week 2
Lecture 4: Vegetation Surveying
Lecture 5: Patches
Lecture 6: Edges

Week 3
Lecture: 7: Revision and workshop
Lecture 8: Corridors
Lecture 9: Networks

Week 4
Lecture 10: Processes in the Landscape (I)
Lecture 11: Processes in the Landscape (II)
Lecture 12: Processes in the Landscape (III)

Week 5
Lecture13 Revision and workshop
Lecture 14: Succession
Lecture 15: Secondary Succession

Week 6
Lecture 16: Pedology
Lecture 17: Soil Surveying and Assessment
Lecture 18: Soil Surveying and Assessment

Week 11
Small mammal survey- morning surveying and end of week collation of data for subsequent report.

Easter holidays:
Five day field course to gain expertise in plant species and community identification and in a range of contrasting Welsh habitats.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Collection of data, analysis and interpretation of survey data for field assessments.
Communication Assessed via group presentations during field course.
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