- Code ENVS6529
- Unit Value 6 units
- Offered by Fenner School of Environment and Society and the School of Culture History and Language
- ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific / ANU Joint Colleges of Science
- Course subject Environmental Science
- Areas of interest Geography, Human Ecology, Resource Management and Environmental Science, Archaeology
What can the past tell us about our future? Much of what we know about the deeper past comes from the remains of microscopic organisms and sediment properties found in depositional settings around the world. In the Australasian region there is a rich body of evidence for past environmental change and biodiversity that is only beginning to be explored. In this course we introduce the participants to the exciting potential of reconstructing past environments and the implications this information might have for the conservation and survival of life on Earth.
Existing lines of evidence for past environmental change in Australia and the region, from a range of palaeoecological and archaeological sources, point to significant changes in climate, biodiversity, vegetation cover, and fire frequency since the arrival of people into Australia sometime between 50,000 – 40,000 yrs ago. Debate continues over the degree to which humans overrode otherwise natural environmental change processes and the spatial extent of human modification through time. In reviewing these changes the micropaleontological and geochronological methods and techniques commonly used to reconstruct past environments are introduced and assessed.
Students will experience in field collection and analysis of a range of palaeo-environmental indicators including pollen, charcoal, seeds, biogenic silica, and stable isotopes. The contribution of these techniques to particular palaeoclimate and conservation biology problems such as reconstructing past El Niño events and detecting natural disturbance and human induced changes is also covered. The course is designed to provide students with a deeper understanding and the practical skills to engage in palaeoecology, archaeological science, palaeoclimatology, and natural resource management research. Key components of the course include meeting and interacting with some of the leading environmental scientists in Australia and gaining insights into ongoing research being undertaken in the region.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
On satisfying the requirements of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- Describe the natural and anthropogenic drivers of past environmental change at a global as well as regional level.
- Describe and explain the techniques that are used to reconstruct past environmental conditions in Australia and abroad.
- Analyse and reconstruct past environmental conditions using appropriate field and laboratory techniques.
- Interpret palaeo-environmental data from a range of sedimentary contexts.
- Reflect on the natural and human influences that explain past environmental conditions and be able to communicate these in ways appropriate to a range of audiences.
- Quizzes (30% LO 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
- Science Communication Project 1 (15%, LO 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
- Science Communication Project 2 - (15%, LO 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
- Research Report & Poster - (40%, LO 2, 3, 4, 5)
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65 contact hours composed of one two-hour class and one three-hour class per week. There is also a compulsory one day field trip.
Requisite and Incompatibility
- Elias, S. Editor. 2007. Encyclopedia of Quaternary Science. London, Wiley.
- Steffen, Will et al. 2009. Australia's biodiversity and climate change. Collingwood: CSIRO Publishing.
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- Student Contribution Band:
- Unit value:
- 6 units
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|Class start date
|Last day to enrol
|Class end date
|Mode Of Delivery
|16 Feb 2015
|06 Mar 2015
|31 Mar 2015
|29 May 2015