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Module

GEO2228 : Biogeography

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Maarten van Hardenbroek van Ammerstol
  • Lecturer: Dr Nick Cutler
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semesters
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0

Aims

Understanding which processes drive the distribution of species on our planet (Biogeography) is crucial for understanding threats to biodiversity and planning successful policies for conservation and protection of species and habitats.

This module will provide a state-of-the-art overview of the way in which species distribution is impacted by environmental conditions. This will be done by a combination of lectures, fieldtrips, and practicals. The module aims are as follows:
•       To make students aware of the spatial patterns in species distributions and the environmental processes driving these distributions.
•       Examine the response of populations and communities to environmental change (past, present and future).
•       Evaluate the possible anthropogenic impact on species distributions in the future.
•       To better understand relevance of biogeography for policy and conservation.
•       Provide training in field observations and data collection using virtual fieldtrips and visual online materials. If this is assessed as safe under Newcastle University COVID-19 guidance a physical fieldtrip in semester 2 could be considered in parallel to online materials.
•       Teach quantitative methods in analysing and integrating environmental data used to investigate and understand species distributions.
Provide training in data integration, data interpretation, group work, poster design and report writing.

Outline Of Syllabus

The syllabus will consist of an introduction to how environmental conditions impact species distributions in the past, the present and the future. Topics that will typically be covered during lectures include:

Introduction
•       Overview of the module
•       The history of biogeography

Geology and evolution of life
•       How species evolve
•       Effect of plate tectonics on the distribution of species
•       The effect of long-term climate trends (icehouse/hothouse)

Biomes: the distribution of species
•       Terrestrial (soils, vegetation zones with latitude/altitude, consumers)
•       Freshwater (rivers, lakes, littoral, deep)
•       Marine (coastal, pelagic, deep)

Succession: changes in the distribution of species in space (e.g., the emergence and persistence of patchy distributions) and time following natural and anthropogenic disturbances.

Biodiversity
•       Ways to measure biodiversity (alpha, beta, gamma, genetic, functional)
•       Natural drivers of spatial patterns in biodiversity (island theory, nutrient/energy sources)
•       Human impacts, e.g., deforestation and pollution

Conservation
•       Policies & Regulations at local/national/international level
•       Monitoring & Restoration
Opportunities for citizen-science, volunteering, taking role as ambassador

Teaching Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials141:0014:00Pre-recorded lecture material
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture31:003:00Timetabled, synchronous online teaching
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities32:006:00Virtual fieldtrips Asynchronous online guided learning
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities32:006:00Computer practicals asynchronous online guided learning
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical22:004:00Timetabled, synchronous in-person teaching (COVID-19 regulations permitting)
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading1129:00129:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching31:003:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching11:001:00Timetabled, synchronous online teaching Groupwork: poster presentation & feedback
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery22:004:00Structured Q&A for computer practicals Timetabled, synchronous online teaching
Total200:00
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will provide an introduction to key concepts in Biogeography, and provide an overview of species distributions at different spatial and temporal scales. The lectures will provide both the theoretical framework and applied examples via guest lectures.

Two virtual field excursions will be used to introduce students to the array of methods and data used to measure and observe species distributions in terrestrial and freshwater environments. Students will also be trained in the laboratory, and in computer practicals to collect, process and quantitatively analyse datasets to understand the physical processes that determine species distributions.

Being able to work in a team is an important skill and will be trained via a guided exercise that will result in creating and presenting a poster, and providing feedback on a poster made by others.

Assessment Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Exams
Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination601M2548 hour Take-home exam with short format answers set before first teaching week in Semester 1
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Practical/lab report1M25Set before first teaching week in Semester 1 1000 words
Poster2M25Set before first teaching week in Semester 2
Practical/lab report2M25Set before first teaching week in Semester 2 1500 words
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Reflective log1MMandatory submission of question in written form for computer practical Q&A
Reflective log2MMandatory submission of question in written form for computer practical Q&A
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Each semester, a data-based project will be undertaken.
Semester 1: students will be trained to analyse an existing dataset, which will be introduced during a virtual field visit, and write an individual report (1000 words, 25% of overall mark). Many of the graduate jobs taken up by students on this module will likely contain report writing, hence this is an important professional skill to develop.
Semester 2: students will collect data in small groups during a short virtual fieldtrip and laboratory practicals, followed by individual data analysis and the writing of a consultancy report for the Environmental Agency (1500 words, 25% of overall mark). The consultancy report requires students to bring together different data sets and views on a contemporary topic that relates human impact on species distributions.
The poster assessment in semester 2 consists of the creation of a science-type conference poster dealing with a contemporary example of anthropogenic impacts on species distributions. Posters will be presented
orally online. Students work in groups to create and present posters, and provide written feedback (200 words) on one poster of another group (combined this is 25% of overall mark). Providing detailed, explicit, useful feedback to peers is an important professional skill that students will be taught during this module and on which they will also be assessed.
The computer assessed exam (or take home exam) enables the understanding of key concepts to be assessed at the end of semester 1. The exam (25% of overall mark) comprises a variety of question types, to test knowledge, understanding and application of material covered in lectures and core reading.

Reading Lists

Timetable