|Delivery length / details
|22 x 1 Hour Lectures
|Assessment length / details
|1.5 Hours Examination consisting of short questions.
On sucessful completion of this module, students should be able to demonstrate knowledge of :-
- the basic processes of ecological diversification, ecological change, soil formation and soil distribution
- the inter-relationships between soil and the biosphere
- the interactions between the biosphere, soils, climate and human population pressures at a global scale
The aim of this module is to provide students with a broad understanding of the interactions among ecosystems, soils and the physical and human environments. Specifically, it aims (1) to examine the origins of global biodiversity, and the current catastrophic rates of extinction caused by humans; (2) to show how ecosystems respond to intermediate and long-term environmental change; (3) to demonstrate the process of soil formation in arctic, temperate and tropical environments; and (4) to introduce some current aspects of applied soil science.
Global Ecology, taught by Dr. Williams, addresses three main themes. The first examines the astonishing biodiversity of the Earth, especially in the tropics. An understanding of the origin and maintenance of biodiversity can be gained by looking at the biogeography of islands, which also exemplify the catastrophic effects of human intervention. The second theme, The Dynamic Biosphere, examines ecological change over intermediate timescales, such as how vegetation and soils interact on newly-formed terrain following ice retreat, or how forests benefit from recurrent natural fires. We also examine the extent to which a knowledge of past variations in plant and animal ranges aids prediction of the biological consequences of global warming. The Ice-Age Biosphere is the third theme, including the extinctions of large mammals at the close of the Pleistocene, and the evidence for climatic and anthropogenic effects on the biosphere during the last 10,000 years.
Soil Systems, the second component of the module, is taught by Dr. Abrahams. This part of the course examines soil constituents, the factors of soil formation, soil processes such as leaching and podzolisation and the variety of world soils, focusing on soils of the tropics. Applied aspects of soil science are emphasised throughout, and the module concludes with a consideration of soil erosion and/or aspects of soil geochemistry.
This module is at CQFW Level 4