196.101 Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour15 credits
An introductory biology course on the way organisms react, adapt, and interact. The course investigates the relationships between genotype, phenotype and environment, and the diversity of life on Earth within a phylogenetic framework. The course includes an examination of the dynamic interactions within and between abiotic and biotic components of ecosystems, including a focus on the evolutionary ecology of behaviours such as foraging, mating, parenting, and cooperation.
An introduction to the biodiversity of New Zealand in a world context. This course considers the origins and relationships of New Zealand biota, species' distributions, adaptive features, behaviours and ecology, along with a consideration of characteristic New Zealand ecosystems. Practicals include compulsory field work.
The study of community and ecosystem ecology of animals, microbes and plants, including the roles that interactions amongst these organisms and their environments play in chemical cycling and the functioning of natural ecosystems. Complex ecological problems affecting ecosystem health will be explored and solutions discussed. Practical classes will involve a research project that develops statistical and writing skills.
Terrestrial ecology and the application to conservation biology, including evolutionary ecology, population biology, species interactions, community, ecosystem and landscape ecology. New Zealand and overseas case studies are considered throughout the course. An analytical approach is taken in the field trips and laboratory work including the use of statistics to test ecological hypotheses and to identify patterns in plant and animal distributions. There is one compulsory weekend field trip
This course focuses on terrestrial ecology, including evolutionary, population, community, ecosystem and landscape ecology, and the application of ecological theories to conservation biology. New Zealand and overseas case studies are considered throughout the course. An analytical approach is taken in the field trips and laboratory work, including the use of statistics to identify patterns in plant and animal distributions, test ecological hypotheses and the effect of conservation actions. The course consists of lectures, laboratory exercises and a compulsory two-day weekend field trip.
A general review of modern evolutionary biology and evolutionary theories, encompassing micro- and macro-evolution. The course centres on genetic and environmental processes that operate in natural populations and among species. It explores the history and development of evolutionary thinking, the origins and age of life on earth, and prehistoric biodiversity. Other topics include evolutionary changes in DNA, human evolution, origin of life, the nature of species and how species arise. Laboratory classes include a range of theoretical, practical and computing exercises in population genetics, phylogenetics and data management.
Introduction to the diversity of prokaryote and eukaryote microorganisms. Population biology and community ecology including microbe-microbe, microbe-plant, and microbe-animal interactions. Adaptations of microbes to extreme environments. The role of microorganisms in biogeochemical cycles, and aspects of applied microbiology, e.g. bioremediation, biological control, composting and biogas.
Understanding the processes and patterns of evolution is central to developing insight into questions of how and why in biology. This course introduces students to the core concepts in evolution, including the geological, biological, phylogenetic and rational evidence for evolution by common descent. Core concepts - including the origins of genetic and phenotypic variation, and micro and macro-evolutionary processes and patterns - will be reinforced and explored in the lab via computer-based simulations and real evolution experiments with digital organisms. Students will be introduced to current theories of human evolution and topics of special interest including the evolution of cooperation and conflict; game theory; the origin of sex; and microbial experimental evolution. Theory will be illustrated, where appropriate, with examples from New Zealand's native species.
An introduction to Marine Biology - the scientific study of life in the sea. First principles of marine biology from history of Marine Biology to use of the sea as a fundamental resource. Studying the ocean as a habitat and examining the form and function of marine taxa within marine biomes, students will discover how the biology, behaviour and ecology of organisms differ between contrasting marine environments.
Students will learn about the major groups of organisms inhabiting New Zealand marine ecosystems and the processes governing their stability and resilience. Students will receive hands-on training of the common observational and experimental techniques used by marine ecologists. The knowledge and practical experience will then be used to develop hypotheses and execute experiments in the field.
196.307 Behavioural and Evolutionary Ecology15 credits
An examination of the behavioural adaptations of animals to their environments and the processes involved in the evolution of animal life histories.
The study of freshwater ecosystems, including the physical and chemical processes that occur in streams, lakes, and their interactions with the biota. Ecological concepts are applied to problems of water quality, ecosystem health, monitoring and the restoration of freshwater systems.
The principles and practice of conservation and management of populations. Ecological principles are applied to the sustainable use of natural resources including conservation of threatened species and fisheries management. The practical component includes statistical analysis and modelling. There is a compulsory field trip day.
Global issues in concept-based plant ecology taught from a New Zealand perspective. Topics include plant growth dynamics, community assembly rules, plant successional concepts and models, herbivory impacts, life history strategies, invasion ecology and plant reproduction. Practical work includes compulsory field days.
A theoretical perspective to the study of community and ecosystem ecology examining the role of interactions between two or more species and their environment. Topics covered include techniques of community description, abiotic and biotic controls of community structure, the effects of disturbance, food web theory, ecosystem function and biodiversity. The emphasis will be on understanding the models and theories relating to this area of science, although examples of the application of these principles will also be given. Practical classes will involve a small research project emphasising the statistical and writing skills important in community and ecosystem ecology.
This course explores the application and analysis of molecular markers to address questions within basic and applied ecology. The diversity of genetic techniques, metrics, and analyses used in molecular ecology will be demonstrated. Examples will address how molecular approaches can be applied to gain insights into ecology, demography, behaviour, biodiversity, and conservation.
The course explores the diversity of plant interactions with other organisms, the molecular and biochemical mechanisms underlying them, their ecological relevance, and the impacts of human activities. The course includes a practical component where students will use molecular and biochemical techniques to investigate these interactions.
This course will explore the biodiversity sciences drawing on evolutionary and ecological theory, and using terrestrial and marine examples on local to global scales. Students will learn practical skills in quantifying patterns and contributing processes, and how to critically synthesise empirical research to advance knowledge and its application to conservation.
An in-depth view of topics in the ecology of marine organisms and their habitats. Students will study one or more topics to provide an advanced education in central issues in marine ecological sciences.
This course examines the zoogeography of marine mammals and the morphological, physiological and behavioural adaptations which have enabled this diverse group to successfully colonise all of the world's oceans and some freshwater systems. An understanding of the underlying ecological principles not only provides interesting insights into marine mammal biology but also yields consequences for marine mammal conservation and management.
196.328 Marine Environments in the Anthropocene15 credits
Humans have interacted with and utilised marine resources for millennia. In this course students will examine how we interact with marine environments and wildlife and the implications of those interactions. In particular, we will focus on how novel approaches are paving the way for more respectful custodianship of our marine resources. Topics include: marine pollution, resource management systems, spatial conservation planning, and aquaculture.
Students will develop an in-depth understanding of the life histories of marine organisms and the mechanisms that determine the distribution and abundance of biodiversity in our oceans. Topics include: marine organism life histories, connectivity and dispersal, community ecology, trophic ecology, and anthropogenic impacts including climate change.
Modern ecology requires quantitative tools to test hypotheses, develop models and make predictions for ecological phenomena in the natural world. This course covers some of the most important advanced statistical modelling tools and software for ecological applications. Topics may include: quantifying biodiversity and modelling species populations, behaviour, interactions or communities with frequentist or Bayesian methods in R and/or WinBUGS software.
This course presents an historical and theoretical perspective to the study of freshwaters, building on the general introduction in 196.313. Topics covered include stream ecosystem structure and function, aquatic macrophytes, plankton, freshwater fish, disturbance and land use impacts, and the implications of the Resource Management Act to aquatic ecology.
This course explores contemporary issues in ecology, emphasising a functional outlook on the role of species in communities. It will focus on biodiversity and the interactions of organisms as stimuli for biodiversity. Topics include diversity and ecosystem function, patterns of species diversity, keystone species, herbivory, community structure, assembly roles and food web studies.
Theoretical topics in plant ecology and ecophysiology, such as forest dynamics, population structures, reproductive strategies, spatial pattern, pollination biology, and ontogenetic effects, investigated through a coordinated course of practical work and literature investigations.