• Offered by Biology Teaching and Learning Centre
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Course subject Biology
  • Areas of interest Plant Science, Evolution and Ecology
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Christopher Fulton
    • Prof Patrick Meir
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in First Semester 2017
    See Future Offerings

Ecology concerns the fundamental patterns and flows in natural biological systems. We consider how organisms interact with their physical environment and with each other to shape their individual attributes, patterns of population dynamics, distribution, diversity and abundance; and across scales of time and space, the patterns and processes of community assembly and ecosystem function. Why are some organisms found here, and not there? Why do plants and animals look and work like they do? What makes their populations large or small, or change in size? Why do some organisms co-exist together, and others not? Why is there so much diversity? In understanding these questions, we gain critical insight into how populations and communities have evolved, how energy and biomass flow through ecosystems, and how populations and communities respond to changes in their environment. These changes may result from natural disturbances such as changes in climate, through altered disease prevalence or competition, or from human modification of habitat, perhaps through overharvesting or species removal. 

The aim of this course is to provide a foundation in ecological thinking, in relevant field methods and in the application of ecology for understanding and conserving natural ecosystems. The course will consider the major biological kingdoms, and will address key themes, including the study of organisms, populations, communities and ecosystems, placing them in context across physical scales from the individual to the Earth system, across processes from the flow of mass and energy to biotic interactions such as competition, and across modes of study from theory to practice. 

Learning Outcomes

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:
  1. Examine and summarise central ideas underpinning the ecology of individuals, populations, communities & ecosystems;
  2. Integrate ecological understanding of processes operating across multiple scales of space and time;
  3. Use  observation, experimentation and modelling to generate and test ecological hypotheses;
  4. Critically evaluate scientific evidence to understand ecological patterns and processes;
  5. Conduct basic ecological research and communicate the findings;
  6. Work as a research team and provide effective peer support and feedback.

Other Information

Field Trip:  As an indication, the cost to students for the 3 days field trip will be $170.  The field trip will be held in Kioloa during 17-19 March 2017.

Indicative Assessment

  • Scientific Reports (40%): You will synthesise information from the literature integrating where required with new data to present the outcomes of ecological research in written and/or graphical form (LO 1, 2, 3, 4, 5).
  • Practical presentations (20%): Working as a team, you will present a summary of findings responding to a challenge or applied ecological question (LO 5, 6).
  • Theory Exam (40%): You will be asked to think critically, analyse available information and present a logical written argument on questions concerning ecological understanding and/or its application for the benefit of society (LO 1, 2, 3, 4).

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


Two lectures per week, a one-hour tutorial and three-hour practical per week.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have successfully completed BIOL1003. You are not able to enrol in this course if you have completed BIOL6004.

Prescribed Texts

Key readings will be provided on Wattle.

Assumed Knowledge

BIOL1009 and STAT1003/STAT1008 or BIOL2202



Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2017 $3444
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2017 $4590
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
4517 20 Feb 2017 27 Feb 2017 31 Mar 2017 26 May 2017 In Person N/A

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