Foundation degrees

Course Information

Conservation Ecology

Module summary

Module code: AGRI1037
Level: 7
Credits: 30
School: Engineering and Science
Department: Natural Resources Institute
Module Coordinator(s): Gabriella Gibson


Pre and co requisites

Students will be expected to have a degree or equivalent professional qualification, in an appropriate subject and preferably relevant experience in the agricultural or environmental sector. Applicants without formal entry qualifications may be admitted according to their work experience and responsibilities.


A basic axiom of conservation ecology is that to conserve biological diversity, conservation programmes must be guided by the biology of the species or systems that they seek to preserve. The design of appropriate management strategies at any level of biological organisation is thus dependent upon the predictive ability of existing models of natural systems. These in turn are dependent upon our knowledge of the biological characteristics of the entity or system being preserved. The adequacy of any conservation strategy, however, must not only relate to fundamental biological criteria of function and sustainability, but must also take social and economic realities into account. This course addresses these issues.

This course provides:

An overview of the biological and socio-economic criteria used in the design of appropriate management strategies;
A grounding in methods for the assessment of biological diversity and an understanding of the adaptive significance of this variation;
Anunderstanding of the impact of ecological traits on the distribution of genetic variation;
Aan ability to integrate biological imperatives with the resources available, so as to develop socially and economically viable management approaches.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course, students will be able to:

Critically compare and contrast criteria used to identify plant and animal conservation priorities;
Critically evaluate and discuss the relationship between socio-economics and biological diversity;
Critically evaluate the benefits of in-situ and ex-situ approaches to achieve genetically effective management strategies, including the role of collections;
Reflect on the role of local conservation issues in the broader regional/global context.

Indicative content

Population size, the ecological reasons for and genetic consequences of, population size. The ecological role of genetic diversity. Comparison of the effects of competition and environmental stochasticity on small populations of animals and plants.
The conservation of genetic diversity through an analysis of the effect of a variety of life history characteristics and strategies on the distribution and abundance of genetic variation in animal and plant populations.
A consideration of the role of collections.
GIS and remote sensing as tools for conservation management and the collection of appropriate data.
Strategic planning, use of economic analysis in the conservation of endangered species and the role of local management strategies in the development of national and regional policies for conserving biodiversity.
Interactions between wildlife and livestock, pathogen/parasite transfer and wildlife utilisation.
International legislation and controls.

Teaching and learning activity

The principles of conservation ecology will be presented through a series of lectures and practicals, to illustrate appropriate techniques for sampling, data analysis and modelling. Lectures will be supported by case-study seminars. Students will prepare and deliver a short, assessed, seminar at the end of the course.


Examination (80%)
3 hour examination to test understanding of course material.

Seminar (on small practical project) (20%)
One 15 min. presentation.

Minimum pass mark - 50%