Tropical Ecology and Conservation - DI535

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
Autumn 6 15 (7.5) DR M Struebig checkmark-circle


This residential module is designed to provide students with first-hand experience of ecological processes, biodiversity and conservation issues associated with humid tropical environments. Tropical rainforests are the most biologically diverse habitats on Earth and the loss of rainforest is of tremendous conservation concern, both due to loss of diversity as well as its consequences for global warming. Topics to be covered in the curriculum include:

• Ecological processes and services in tropical rainforests including nutrient cycling, decomposition, pollination and seed dispersal.
• Rainforest structure and defining characteristics of pristine and disturbed habitats.
• Rainforest community ecology and tropical forests as centres of ecological diversification and biodiversity.
• Practical training in ecological techniques and survey methods for a range of terrestrial taxonomic groups.
• Anthropogenic factors affecting rainforests including logging, fragmentation, global warming & agriculture.

The module will take place in a field studies centre at a rainforest location where there is an adequate infrastructure to ensure an acceptable standard of logistical support and health and safety conditions. Students will spend time working in forest and non-forest systems, and there will be an emphasis on practical training in ecological survey and assessment methods. Teaching on conservation will be integrated with short visits to surrounding sites to gain direct appreciation of the issues, problems and solutions surrounding rainforests and their wildlife.

Participation in the module will be dependent on maintaining a clean disciplinary record during registration on the degree programme prior to the module. These requirements may be waived in individual cases at the discretion of the module and programme convenors where we judge that there is a strong case for allowing the student onto the module.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

The main taught component of the module will be delivered on location during an intensive field study of approximately 11 days.

Formal contact time will vary according to logistical factors but will comprise approximately 88 hours (including 4 hours in Canterbury meetings), to include:
• Lectures (12 contact hours)
• Field practicals in groups (4-5 students) (approximately 32 hours)
• Additional group activity work and presentations (2-3 students) during the field-course (approximately 40 hours)
• Pre- /post trip meetings for preparation and coursework discussion (4 hours)


The module will be offered to Stage 3 students and taught in the summer vacation, between Stages 2 and 3. Credit will be awarded in Autumn term at Stage 3.

Method of assessment

100% coursework:
Field Notebook (15%)
Report 1 (35%)
Report 2 (35%)
Group Participation and Oral Presentation (15%)

Indicative reading

DI303 Survey and Monitoring for Biodiversity
DI505 Conceptual Frameworks in Conservation Science
DI508 - Skills for Conservation Biologists

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

8.1 Demonstrate an in-depth knowledge and experience of the characteristics and ecological processes that define tropical rainforests (including nutrient cycling, decomposition and pollination), as well as the characteristics of disturbed tropical forests and the breakdown of ecological processes within these habitats

8.2 Demonstrate an understanding of the importance of tropical forests as centres of biodiversity and ecological diversification.

8.3 Demonstrate theoretical and direct experience of the major conservation issues surrounding rainforests, and evaluate ways by which environmental impacts on tropical habitats can be mitigated.

8.4 Demonstrate practical and analytical skills concerning ecological survey techniques and assessment methods for a range of tropical biota, which can also be applied to other ecosystems.


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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