Principles of conservation ecology BIOL5293

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Biodiversity One Health Vet Med
  • Credits: 10
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

The course explores the ecological principles relevant to conservation biology with a view to understanding how these affect decisions on conversation management in protected African ecosystems. These principles underpin both the management of population and ecosystem processes, and the tools commonly used in research and monitoring of ecosystem components.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of supervised practical work, will be delivered over a one week block: which will include problem-based scenarios and 'media-style' presentations/discussions of assignment topics. Additional self-study hours will take place during the week of the course and subsequent weeks of the semester.

Requirements of Entry


Excluded Courses



Engagement and application of theory during discussions: students will be assessed based on active participation in discussions and their ability to present, synthesise and engage with others about theories (30%). They will also be assessed on a set exercise that tests the practical skills learned (15%). Students will submit two drafts of a poster presentation that outlines their experimental plan for their independent research project (55%). This will incorporate the theories and practical lessons learned during the course and will help to develop their critical thinking skills for their projects. They will have the opportunity to improve their presentation based on formative feedback provided on the first draft

Course Aims

The course explores the interaction between species and environment in protected African ecosystems. It will examine the ecological factors and processes that underpin the abundance and spatial distribution of populations, and the dynamics of their within and between species interactions. It will familiarise students with the key conceptual and quantitative paradigms relevant to conservation ecology, the practice of conservation management, and the study and monitoring of components of African ecosystems. It will focus particularly on how to study and quantify ecosystem stress, and how ecological dynamics respond to stress and environmental change in African settings.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:


■ Identify and critically evaluate key concepts underpinning the interaction between species and their environments in protected African ecosystems

■ Critically discuss the key ecological processes underlying the abundance and spatial distribution of species of conservation interest, and the conceptual and quantitative models that are used to characterise them

■ Apply appropriate processes to measure and manage ecosystem stressors

■ Critically discuss the ecological basis on which to build options for the management of natural resources and their implications for biodiversity conservation.

■ Critically discuss and evaluate, with reference to the evidence base and primary literature, a particular conservation action/approach based on recognised ecological principles in order to make a rational argument for or against the action/approach

■ Design management and research projects around sound and recognised ecological principles

■ Appraise the usefulness of quantitative assessment of a given ecological process, and design processes for the acquisition of relevant quantitative data in conservation ecology.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.