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Modules

BIO3047 : Conservation and Ecological Research in Human-modified Landscapes of Sub-Saharan Africa

Semesters
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0

Aims

The overall aim of this module is to introduce the ecology, conservation and management challenges for human-modified tropical landscapes. This is a field-based module that supports students to build a foundation for research skills required for investigating and managing such landscapes drawing on theory and practice from ecology, socio-ecology and conservation. It will do so by (1) briefly outlining the conservation challenges in human-modified tropical landscapes, (2) exploring data needs required to address these challenges, and (3) showing how data can be used for the management of such landscapes for both biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module will be taught during a 12 day trip (overseas) to one of two countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (Tanzania, South Africa). The focus has shifted from Tanzania to South Africa for logistic reasons. In South Africa, the course will be largely based at Lajuma Research Centre (www.lajuma.com).

Lajuma has been established by Prof Russell Hill (Anthropology, University of Durham, UK) for his Primate & Predator project. Running and hosting local and international student field courses forms a substantial part of Lajuma’s operation.

A combination of lectures, fieldwork exercises, data collection and analysis and presentations will be used to support students’ skills development. A range of these will be student-led. The focus of the introductory lectures is to explain key concepts and contemporary conservation challenges relevant to human-modified landscapes in Sub-Saharan Africa. During the field course, we will work through specific topics (e.g. how to quantify animal movements to analyse potential for human-wildlife conflict) supported by guided reading. These topics will be explored in more detail in field visits which will be selected to give a broad overview of habitat use by wildlife, land use and land use change, land management and livelihood strategies of rural communities. There will be a focus on how to plan and implement field research in tropical human-modified landscapes, analyse the results obtained and report them. The emphasis will be on the ecology of the study systems and the interface between wildlife and human communities.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion121:0021:00Students will write up reports & prepare for oral presentation
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture91:009:00Formal taught session at the start of each day at the research station
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture21:002:00Formal taught sessions at NU prior to the field course to provide context on the course’s themes.
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading15:005:00Students undertake reading on their own directed by course instructors prior to the field course.
Guided Independent StudySkills practice72:0014:00Students will analyse the data collected using R statistical software
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork77:0049:00Fieldwork will involve data collection for a particular research question following agreed sampling
Total100:00
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The teaching methods are designed to align with the Learning Outcomes. Following the introductory lecture, the students are asked to read and research one of the key challenges in biodiversity conservation in tropical human-modified landscapes using publications provided and additional literature.

The lectures during the course will provide the fundamentals of the concepts, theories and methods used when designing conservation plans for tropical human-modified landscapes. They will be structured using a problem-centred approach with real-world examples: e.g. monitoring mammal distribution and movements as a base for designing protected areas. Students will work in groups to engage with the material in depth using publications and teaching material provided by the supervisors. The fieldwork will give students experience in applying some of the methods, what they should consider when applying them and what the limitations of these methods are.

Students will be guided through their independent analysis of collected data and information in their final report write-up.

Assessment Methods

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

Exams
Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Oral Presentation251M10Supervisor's assessment
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Prof skill assessmnt1M10Supervisor's assessment
Report1M802000 word coursework report
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessments are aligned with the intended learning outcomes. The students will work in groups of 3-4 to present their topic as a 15 minute presentation, i.e. introducing one contemporary conservation science approach used to collect, analyse and interpret data for the management of human-modified tropical landscapes. In the subsequent 10 minutes, the students will answer questions from peers and staff related to that topic. The students will draft and submit a report on their topic critically examining it and reflecting on the feedback provided after the presentation.

The reports will contain: a) a short written analysis of one contemporary conservation challenge in tropical human-modified landscapes, b) an assessment, with examples, of the data required to provide information on addressing this challenge; and c) a critical discussion on how the resultant data might be applied to the management of the landscapes (e.g. creation of a protected area).

Reading Lists

Timetable