ACE8045 : Ecological Survey Techniques

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


This module teaches a basic understanding of the core principles of sampling and survey design. It instructs students in the design and execution of ecological surveys in a variety of habitats, with various taxa and for different purposes. It develops skills in the analysis and interpretation of ecological survey data and allows students to gain first hand experience in specific methods used in the survey of soils, plants, invertebrates, birds and mammals. The early part of the course concentrates on fundamental principles of good survey design and students develop their own survey in group discussion. The latter part of the course revolves around four field trips in which students collect data using specialist methodologies and analyse this in follow-up practicals.

Outline Of Syllabus

1. Sampling strategy and survey planning and design
2. Introduction to multivariate statistical techniques used in ecology
3. Vegetation description and classification
4. Soil survey techniques
5. Plant and vegetation survey methods
6. Sampling and survey of invertebrate communities
7. Measuring mobile vertebrate species with emphasis on birds and mammals

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion140:0040:00Preparation for Survey Reports
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture101:0010:00Teaching of basic principles and technical concepts. Introduction to field trip material.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical42:008:00Follow up practicals to field trips in which data is collated and discussed.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork48:0032:00Four 1 day field trips to local sites, in which the field techniques are taught and applied
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study110:0010:00Reading linked to understanding of lecture material.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures set the ecological science background. Field trips provide experience of biological surveys. Practical classes facilitate data preparation, analysis and report writing.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Practical/lab report1M1004 practical write-up assignments each 25%. Each no more than 6 pages including graphs and tables.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Writing up following practical field work and use of ecological techniques will allow students to understand the appropriateness of a range of techniques and be able to apply the approriately. Students will develop their skills through feedback from earlier reports and consequently increasing experience of interpreting and analysing biological data using relevant software

Reading Lists