• Class Number 3682
  • Term Code 3030
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Patrick Meir
    • Dr Sasha Mikheyev
    • Owen Atkin
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 24/02/2020
  • Class End Date 05/06/2020
  • Census Date 08/05/2020
  • Last Date to Enrol 02/03/2020
SELT Survey Results

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. We consider these interactions across scales of time and space, the patterns and processes of community assembly and how ecosystems work and affect the physical and biological environments. Why are some organisms found here, and not there? Why do plants and animals look and work like they do? How does this affect how ecosystems work? What makes the populations of different organisms large or small, or change in size? Why do some organisms co-exist together, and others not? Why is there so much diversity and how does it affect how communities and ecosystems work? In addressing 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.
In this course you will explore the foundations 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.There is a compulsory 3 days field trip to the university Kioloa Coastal Campus. A significant proportion of the final mark will derive from full engagement with this part of the course.

Note: Graduate students attend joint classes with undergraduates but are assessed separately.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Examine and summarise central ideas underpinning the ecology of individuals, populations, communities and/or ecosystems;
  2. Integrate ecological understanding of processes operating across multiple scales of space and time;
  3. Understand how observation, experimentation and modelling can be used to generate and test ecological hypotheses;
  4. Think critically about 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;
  7. Synthesise understanding of ecological methods and data analysis, and represent this in a standard report format;
  8. Learn to build evidence-based arguments for how populations, communities and/or ecosystems might respond to changes in their biological and physical environments.

Research-Led Teaching

This course will connect a general background in ecology across the animal and plant sciences, reflecting the focus of each instructor. Principles and ideas will integrate across disciplines, whilst providing depth in areas that span from population ecology to ecosystem-level processes. The course will also be informed by current research into microbial ecology, forest ecology, plant functional ecology and animal ecology. Students will be encouraged to learn new measurements and analysis methods in both field and laboratory settings.

Field Trips

There will be a compulsory field trip (13-15 March 2020), based at the university coastal campus site, at Kioloa, NSW. A significant proportion of the final mark will derive from full engagement with this part of the course. The BTLC subsidises the field trip substantially, but a fee of $250 is requested from each student. Details of this part of the course are provided in the documentation and lectures at the start of the course in February.

Additional Course Costs

Please see field trip cost ($250).

Examination Material or equipment

Please see above (required resources)

Required Resources

Additional course costs: nil (beyond field trip contribution - see above).

Examination material or equipment: nil beyond standard equipment for an exam

Recommended Resources

Lecture handouts will be periodically uploaded to WATTLE (https://wattle.anu.edu.au/). Please bring an electronic copy or your own hard copy printout to the relevant lecture if you need one, as hardcopies will not be provided. General course information, assignment information sheets, and tutorial instruction sheets will also be available on WATTLE ahead of the scheduled time for that activity. Key readings will tend to focus on individual research papers or reviews. We also suggest the general background text in ecology listed below. However, we emphasise the importance of using the readings provided by the lecturers, many of which may be more up-to-date or more focussed for your studies. A request has been lodged to the library to provide relevant texts on short and long-term loan.


‘Ecology’, 4th Edition (2017). William D Bowman, Sally D Hacker & Michael L Cain. Sinauer. ISBN: 9781605356181


You may also like to try these resources for high-quality information:

Literature searches

ANU Library http://libguides.anu.edu.au/content.php?pid=405919&sid=3467071

ISI Web of Knowledge  http://www.isiwebofknowledge.com/

Google Scholar http://scholar.google.com.au

Scopus http://www.scopus.com/

Please see above (required resources)

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Other Information

This class is held in tandem with BIOL2131; the student groups are combined, which leads to gains for both groups.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Course overview and advance field trip briefing Atkin Lectures 1,2. Functional and Community Ecology. Filters, niches, resources and modularity
2 Atkin Lectures 3-5 Functional and Community Ecology. Competition, succession and community assembly REMINDER ANNOUNCEMENTS FOR THE KIOLOA FIELD TRIP Friday practical: lecture and preparation for field trip to Kioloa. This is compulsory: it will contain instruction necessary to prepare for the course, and formalities over access to the site. You need to complete these formalities to go.
3 Atkin Lectures 6,7 Functional and Community Ecology Using functional traits to inform patterns at different scales REMINDER ANNOUNCEMENTS FOR THE KIOLOA FIELD TRIP **WEEKEND OF WEEK 3 - COMPULSORY FIELD TRIP TO KIOLOA** [depart Fri 13 March - return Sun 15 March] Kioloa Field trip 13-15 March
4 Meir Lectures 1, 2. Ecosystem Ecology Ecosystem ecology, biomes and biodiversity **FRIDAY 20TH MARCH: PRACTICAL 1/FIELD DATA Vegetation gradients (Meir) Practical 1 (Friday 20th March) - computer-, interactive-, mini lecture- based class. The class is compulsory for delivery of the assignment/report for Practical 1 which is DUE 30 March.
5 Meir Lectures 3-5. Ecosystem Ecology Ecosystem function, mechanism, measurement, diversity, recap Prac Report 1 due Mon 30 March - start of this week Practical 1 Report/report DUE Mon 30 March
6 Meir Lectures 6-8. Ecosystem Ecology Land atmosphere interactions, ecosystem services, review
7 Mikheyev Lectures 1,2. Data analysis discussion Population structure, regulation and dynamics NOTE: Practical 2a, Data analysis is on THURSDAY 23 April, lecture room The theory lecture is recorded; Attendance at this discussion/practical is required Practical 2a. Data analysis workshop, lecture room This will take place on THURSDAY 23 April - interactive, mini lecture based class. The class is compulsory for delivery of assignment/report, which is DUE on Tue 28 March.
8 Mikheyev Lectures 3-5. Population structure, demography, life history NOTE: Practical 2b, Data analysis is on THURSDAY 23 April The theory lecture is recorded; Attendance at this discussion/practical is required. Practical Report 2a DUE Tue 28th March Practical 2b. Data analysis workshop, lecture room This will take place on THURSDAY 30 April - interactive, mini lecture based class.
9 Mikheyev Lectures 6-8 Herbivory, predation, parasitism, disease; competition NOTE: Practical 2c, Data analysis is on THURSDAY 7 May The theory lecture is recorded; Attendance at this discussion/practical is required. Practical Report 2b DUE Mon 4th May Practical 2c. Data analysis workshop, lecture room This will take place on THURSDAY 7 May - interactive, mini lecture based class.
10 Mikheyev Lectures 9-11. Community assembly, alternative states, biogeography Note: Practical 3, Data analysis, Invertebrates/Kioloa FRIDAY 15th MAY Computer-based ecological analysis in Gould 113 (computer lab) Practical 3 on Friday 15th May - computer, interactive, mini lecture based class. To be held in Gould 113, computer laboratory All work and marks to be completed at this class only (ie no report to be submitted later)
11 Mikheyev Lectures 12-14. Invasion biology, meta-communities, biogeography
12 Mikheyev Lectures 15,16. Microbial ecology, human ecology, conservation biology

Tutorial Registration

All tutorials are scheduled as single-date events - no sign ups required.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Practical 1/Field data. Vegetation gradients. 20 % 30/03/2020 * 1,2,3,4,5,6
Practical 2/Data analysis skills (three subcomponents: 2a, 2b, 2c). 20 % * * 1,2,3,4,5,6
Practical 3. Computer-based analysis 20 % 15/05/2020 15/05/2020 1,2,3,4,5,6
Scientific Report 40 % * * 1,2,3,4

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using 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. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Integrity . In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


The field trip and the practicals are all compulsory; they are not repeated.

Full attendance at the lectures is strongly recommended to enhance understanding and intellectual synthesis.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 30/03/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6

Practical 1/Field data. Vegetation gradients.

The details of this task will be fine-tuned and the rubric will be specified according to the fieldwork outcomes - this may relate to biological or meteorological variability, or other external influences/events.

This practical will be held in the GOULD 113 COMPUTER LAB.

This practical will enable you to learn how to analyse your field data, present them and interpret them: the focus will be on how vegetation properties differ in different physical environments, influenced by distance from the sea.

In the workshop/practical we will take you through analysis of the different datasets and help you think about interpretation.

You will be able to answer the assignment based on this workshop, and you may enrich your answer with the benefit of wider reading.

A Powerpoint file from the practical will be available on Wattle to help you remember the activities and discussions of the workshop

You will be expected to: describe methods and data, perform data analysis and data presentation, and make basic interpretation of your data.

Outcomes: learn to arrange and manage data, do basic analysis, present tables and graphs.

It is intended that the assessment will be returned approximately 2 weeks from submission.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 20 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6

Practical 2/Data analysis skills (three subcomponents: 2a, 2b, 2c).

The details of this task will be fine-tuned and the rubric will be influenced by fieldwork outcomes

This series of mini discussions and and practice analyses will be held in the LECTURE ROOM ON THURSDAYS, AT THE LECTURE TIME.

This series of mini discussions and practicals will enable you to learn how to analyse your data, present them and interpret them.

Later, for Practical 3 you will be required to refer to use these skills to focus on community ecology with respect to invertebrates.

The mini discussions and practice analyses will take place in the LECTURE room, on Thursday mornings at the lecture time; the theory lecture will have been recorded and will be available separately. Attendance at each of these mini discussions is required to complete the tasks, together totalling 20% of the course (2a/4%; 2b/8%; 2c/8%).

Outcomes: learn to arrange and manage data, do basic analysis, present tables and graphs.

[Please note there are 3 subcomponents associated with this task with individual due dates]

Practical Report 2a DUE Tue 28th March

Practical Report 2b DUE Mon 4th May

Practical Report bc DUE Thursday 7th May

Where possible, marked assessments will be returned on or before the following assignment.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 15/05/2020
Return of Assessment: 15/05/2020
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6

Practical 3. Computer-based analysis

The details of this task will be fine-tuned and the rubric will be specified following the fieldwork practicals, which may vary according to the field trip outcomes.

This practical will be held in the GOULD 113 COMPUTER LAB at the standard practical time on Friday

This practical will enable you to learn how to analyse data, visualise data and perform data analyses, present the outcomes and interpret them, all related to the invertebrates part of the Kioloa field trip. The work will be completed within a single class-period activity; no subsequent assignment submission will be requested.

Online material will be available for the practical and will also be available on Wattle.

Outcomes: learn to arrange and manage data, do basic analysis, present tables and graphs.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 40 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Scientific Report

This report should follow a formal scientific structure, build on the concepts introduced in the course and draw together understanding of the importance and links among abiotic drivers, biotic interactions and functional traits. The content will build on the learning and skills development achieved in earlier Assessment Tasks. A standard structure of Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, Conclusions and References is required. More details will be provided in class, and on Wattle ahead of the due date; this will be linked to the exam date in the parallel Biol2131 class, where possible.

Due date will be confirmed in class and on the course Wattle site.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with.

The Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Individual assessment tasks may or may not allow for late submission. Policy regarding late submission is detailed below:.

  • Late submission permitted. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

All student work is to be returned via Turnitin, unless you are informed otherwise: this information will be provided through Wattle and/or verbally to the class.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments

Resubmission is not permitted

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Prof Patrick Meir

Research Interests

Forest ecology, ecosytems, tropical forests

Prof Patrick Meir

Dr Sasha Mikheyev
alexander.mikheyev@anu. edu.au

Research Interests

Dr Sasha Mikheyev

Owen Atkin

Research Interests

Owen Atkin

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions