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NES3314 : Current Zoology

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Mark Shirley
  • Lecturer: Dr Pete Robertson
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


Students will be familiarised with research in contemporary Zoology. They will use skills and knowledge they obtained during the degree programme in order to work on specific themes in contemporary Zoology. Students will be able to work independently on a research question using contemporary research literature and be able to deliver a scientific presentation on the specific research questions. Furthermore, students will be familiarised with animal welfare and ethics including legal and moral aspects of human use of animals, for example in research and agriculture.

Students will learn practical skills involved in collecting data using four field survey techniques. During the course the students will learn how to analyse population and distribution data using the latest software packages in R. Students will consider the application of the techniques to different survey and monitoring situations in including ethical considerations and experimental design. Field techniques may include:

· Radio-tracking of habitat use by animals: A practical exercise will provide experience in tracking of mammal species. Students will be trained in the use of telemetry equipment and the analysis of spatial point data.

· Small mammal trapping to estimate population density: Assessing mammal population density is difficult because most mammal species in the UK are rarely observed. We will train students in the use of baited trapping (of rodents) with mark-release recapture as a means of analysing population density.

· Dietary Analysis Student will be trained in the dissection of owl pellets to reconstruct diets. Skills developed will be in identification of rodent skulls and dentition and in community composition analysis using multivariate techniques.

· Distance sampling for estimating abundance and density. Students will be trained in distance sampling methodology for estimating abundance and density. Students will learn how to estimate detection rates and incorporate error into their abundance estimates.

· Camera Trapping: Students will learn how to set camera traps for monitoring and surveying. Students will learn how to estimate detection rates and incorporate error into their abundance estimates

Outline Of Syllabus

Welcome Week

An introductory lecture in Welcome Week will inform students about the work they will do in this module.

First half of Semester 1

Two practical sessions will introduce the students to techniques in monitoring animals, such as :

· Radiotracking

· Camera trapping

· Small mammal trapping

· Dietary analysis

· Bat surveys

· Tracks and signs

Three computer labs will teach the students analytical techniques such as:

· Movement analysis

· Population analysis

· Image analysis

There will be one lecture on laboratory animal welfare and one lecture on wild animal welfare.

Second half of Semester 1

Guest speakers from amongst the ECRs as well as current Zoology staff will be invited to provide lectures on current research in zoology to reinforce the techniques learned during the first half of the semester. This will be a rolling programme so the precise content will change each year.

There will be one workshop to introduce the group projects (see Formative Assessment) and help the students decide on topics

There will be a presentation session where groups give their presentations to the rest of the class. This session will be focussed at providing feedback which will contribute to the writing of the summative assessment

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00Report preparation and writing
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture81:008:002 on welfare, 6 from speakers
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00Presentation preparation
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion14:004:00Group Presentations
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials51:005:00Canvas online content - intro to the methods, ethics, health and safety study design elements
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading150:0050:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical23:006:00Radiotrapping and camera trapping
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops42:008:00Movement analysis, Capture-Mark-Recapture, Image analysis, group presentations
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study159:0059:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

An introductory lecture will inform students about the work they are expected to do during the module.

Lectures will provide information about current research on animals.

Active learning experiences will be provided in each of the three areas, in which students work in groups

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M100Written report with 2 sections
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Oral Presentation1MOne formative group presentation session, partly peer assessed
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Formative Assessments

The Group Presentation will consist of an oral report by one or more members of each group. The subject is the reintroduction of any animal species in any country, covering any aspects such as history of local extinction, benefits of reintroduction, likelihood of reintroduction, projected success, threats to a rewilding programme, and so forth.

Other Assessment

The Written Report will consist of 2 sections:

· To assess the success of species conservation projects the IUCN recommends that species reintroductions should be monitored. Each student should pick one animal and research suitable monitoring methods that could be used to assess the success of a reintroduction; commenting on the
a) spatial extent of the methods; and
b) the potential resource requirements (e.g. equipment needs, person effort). (60%)

· Select a study of your choice published in a peer reviewed journal that has used GPS or radiotracking of a named animal species (in any country). Review the purpose of the study and describe how tracking the species contributed to the study objectives. (40%)

Knowledge will be assessed in the written report. Part B of the report will rely on information presented in the group project.

Reading Lists