Module Identifier GG10410  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Dr Henry F Lamb  
Semester Semester 2  
Other staff Dr Peter W Abrahams  
Course delivery Lecture   20 Hours 1 hr lectures.  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam2 Hours Examination consisting of short questions.  100%
Supplementary Assessment2 Hours Examination consisting of essays.  100%

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module students should be demonstrate knowledge of :-


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.


This module consists of two distinct but inter-related components, both of which are designed to
provide a foundation for more detailed consideration of related topics covered by Level 2 and 3
modules (eg Dynamic Biogeography; Reading the Ice Age Record; Environmental History of the last
18,000 Years; Pure and Applied Pedology; Soil, Geochemistry and Environment; Practical
Pedology). The module also relates to other Level 1 modules offered by the Institute of Geography
and Earth Sciences because ecological and soil systems are influenced by, and have important
effects on, the Earth's climate, hydrology, glaciers, and associated erosional and weathering

Global Ecology, taught by Dr. Lamb, 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