Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Due to Covid-19 students should refer to the module Blackboard pages for assessment details

Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Online test - Bird ID 1  10%
Semester Assessment Online test - Bird ID 2  10%
Semester Assessment Phenology mini portfolio  (1,200 words)  30%
Semester Exam 1.5 Hours   50%
Supplementary Exam 1.5 Hours   Students must take elements of assessment equivalent to those that led to failure of the module  50%
Supplementary Assessment Phenology mini portfolio  Students must take elements of assessment equivalent to those that led to failure of the module  (1,200 words)  30%
Supplementary Assessment Online test - Bird ID 1  Students must take elements of assessment equivalent to those that led to failure of the module  10%
Supplementary Assessment Online test - Bird ID 2  Students must take elements of assessment equivalent to those that led to failure of the module  10%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Demonstrate knowledge of how ecosystems and their component parts function

2. Identify the songs of resident and migrating bird species in mid-Wales during spring

3. Identify common tree species based on their bud and subsequent leaf characteristics

4. Assemble notes on the phenological development of local plants and animals to compare species responses in relation to weather and environment

Brief description

The module is a broad and up-to-date introduction to the topic of ecology. It contains both fundamental and topical elements and considers future challenges such as responding to global climate and conserving biodiversity. We look at how systems work but also how species have evolved to exist within these systems. The autecology of species will be considered also highlighting human interactions. This module will also teach valuable field ID skills and understanding to underpin careers in ecological surveying or management.


This module begins with a context and introduction to the powering of ecosystems with specific reference to systems based on sunlight and green plants and those based on dead organic matter. We consider how humans during the anthropocene have altered these systems and how this is impacting on our climate.

The ecosystem is the basic unit of study in ecology and many important relationships between organisms, both plants and animals, with their abiotic environment are best explored at this level. Initially, a holistic approach is adopted with an analysis of a simple ecosystem, the arctic tundra, to show how our knowledge of this system has evolved and to describe the basic relationships that exist between its various components. It is necessary, however, to place the concept of the ecosystem within the context of the ecological hierarchy which considers ecological organisation from the individual level up to the biosphere.
A range of abiotic factors are reviewed and considered in relation to biotic factors including herbivory, predation and competition. Predation is one factor that limits population numbers from infinite exponential growth. Similarly, competition for resources has an equally important effect. In addition, a study of resource utilisation by species helps us to understand their position within ecological systems, generally defined as the niche. Within its distribution, however, a species will often show specific adaptation to particular situations; examples of such ecotypic variation will be discussed.
Some aspects of the ecology of individual plant and animal species, however, can best be understood from a study of their autecology. Individual plant and animal species are used to illustrate the concept of autecology. These are integrated across the lecture series ending with emphasis on our need to appreciate and conserve biodiversity as a resource for future generations.
The practicals will develop tree and bird ID skills that the students will use to construct a mini-portfolio detailing faunal and floral changes in phenology from winter into spring. This will include temporal biological information about plants and animals, weather and environment.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Collection of quantitative and qualitative information from the field for portfolio assignment.
Communication Good scientific communication required to document and discuss phenology in the examination.
Improving own Learning and Performance Feedback provided in practical sessions to improve ID and research skills.
Information Technology Used to research elements to support lecture materials and practical elements.
Personal Development and Career planning Relevance of module ID skills to potential careers emphasized.
Problem solving The practical component will involve using ID skills to follow phenology and respond to the problem presented.
Research skills Research skills associated with collation and processing of information in the field and from the literature.
Subject Specific Skills Module requires students to develop practical ID and fields skills essential to many environmental careers.
Team work Student can engage in degree scheme teams in order to collect data for their field data if desired.


This module is at CQFW Level 4