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Undergraduate Study

Third Year Courses

BIO3002F   Marine Ecosystems

A compulsory five-day field camp during first semester

36 NQF credits at HEQSF level 7

Convener: Professor J J Bolton

Course entry requirements: SEA2004F, BIO2013F

Course outline:

The course aims to develop and promote skills in the marine sciences in South Africa, making students familiar with global marine ecosystem structure and functioning, but with an emphasis on South African systems. Lectures, tutorials and practicals will be aimed at developing interpretative and integrative skills built during previous courses (e.g. SEA2004F; BIO1004S; BIO1000F) which cover large amounts of more basic information. A further important aim will be to develop numerical and written skills, as well as introducing students to modern research techniques and approaches.

Lecture times: Monday - Friday, 1st period

DP requirements: 40% for class record; submission of assignments on schedule and attendance at field camp.

Assessment: A 3-hour examination written in June, with a sub-minimum of 40% will count for 50% of the course. Coursework marks will be allocated as follows: Practical classes (assessed weekly) count 20%; research project counts 15%; two class tests count 15%.

 

BIO3013F   Global Change Ecology

36 NQF credits at HEQSF level 7

Convener: Dr A G West

Course entry requirements: BIO1000F or BIO1000H, BIO1004F/S; approved 2000-level semester Science course.

Course outline:

How are organisms and ecosystems affected by the drivers of global environmental change? In this course we briefly explore the drivers of global change, both natural (e.g. Milankovitch cycles, tectonic drift) and anthropogenic (e.g. greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, land-use change), and then examine how these drivers influence (and are influenced by) terrestrial and marine biological systems. We cover a variety of topics, ranging from organismal and physiological responses to global change, biodiversity, global biogeochemical cycles, ecological function and ecosystem services. While the majority of the class is focussed on contemporary global change, this is contextualized relative to palaeohistorical environmental change. The course provides an integrated knowledge of contemporary environmental issues related to global change (e.g. carbon sequestration, climate change mitigation, land-use change) and its implications for biodiversity, ecosystem services and human wellbeing).

Lecture times: Monday - Friday, 2nd period

DP requirements: Minimum of 40% for class record.

Assessment: A 3-hour examination written in June, with a sub-minimum of 40%, will count for 50% of the course. Coursework marks will be allocated as follows: Practical classes (assessed weekly) count 15%; research project counts 20%; class tests count 15%.

 

BIO3014S   Conservation: Genes, Population & Biodiversity

36 NQF credits at HEQSF level 7

Convener: Associate Professor L Gillson

Course entry requirements: BIO2010F

Course outline:

This course introduces students to the science and practice of conservation biology, beginning with an overview of conservation issues, the value of biodiversity, extinction risks and the history and philosophy of conservation. The conservation of biodiversity is explored at multiple levels, including the diversity of genes, species, populations and ecosystems. At the species and population levels, the role of life history, behaviour in the management of populations in the real world is covered. The conservation and management of ecosystems is considered in terms of important processes, such as disturbance, re-wilding and threats by alien species. This course includes consideration of conservation, society, landscapes and ecosystem services. Issues to be considered here include: incentives, access, who benefits from conservation, legal aspects and management policies.

Lecture times: Monday - Friday, 2nd period

DP requirements: Submission of assignments by due date and 50% subminimum.

Assessment: A 3-hour examination written in November, with a sub-minimum of 40%, will count for 50% of the course. Coursework marks will be allocated as follows: Practical classes (assessed weekly) count 20%; project work counts 15%; two class tests count 15%.

 

BIO3015F   Ecology

This course is a residential two week field course, occurring before term starts. During term time further lectures and various assignments need to be completed.

36 NQF credits at HEQSF level 7

Convener: Associate Professor M D Cramer

Course entry requirements: BIO2010F

Course outline:

This course concerns advanced topics in African terrestrial ecology. We span variation in scale, from local community ecology (such as of freshwaters) to ecosystem ecology (such as the dynamics of fynbos, forest and savanna). We focus on plants and animals, as well as their interactions. Important environmental factors (such as soil, climate and water) are also considered. Some further topics that are dealt with are biogeochemistry (from geology and nutrients to plant and animal distributions), disturbance and succession (such as the role of fire and herbivory), patterns and causes of animal and plant distributions and of species richness. The course is fieldwork-orientated with a two-week fieldtrip before the first semester starts. This provides ample opportunity for lectures as well as studying plants, animals, their interactions and the role of local environments. During the rest of the semester emphasis is placed on completing practical assignments, with only a limited number of lectures.

Lecture times: Monday - Friday, 5th period

DP requirements: A minimum of 40% for class record, attendance of two week field camp.

Assessment: A 3-hour examination written mid-semester will count for 50% of the course with a sub-minimum of 40%. Coursework marks will be allocated as follows: Practical and project work counts 40%; one class test counts 10%.

 

BIO3016S   Evolutionary Biology

A compulsory weekend fieldtrip.

36 NQF credits at HEQSF level 7

Convener: Professor J J Midgley

Course entry requirements: BIO2010F

Course outline:

This course deals with the description and analysis of biodiversity and evolution at the species level and above. The course begins by considering the nature and definition of species, the processes by which new species arise in nature (speciation), and the data and procedures employed in the practical discovery and description of previously-undescribed species. Thereafter, the focus shifts to the inference of evolutionary relationships amongst populations and species, with an emphasis on the types of data and the analytical methods employed. Following on from this, the course explores macroevolutionary approaches to the study of adaptation, key innovation and lineage diversification (radiation), and approaches employed in studying the genetic mechanisms that underpin adaptation and species radiation. The course concludes with an exploration of selected ‘big’ questions in evolutionary biology, such as the coevolution (mutualism, parasitism), evolution of sex and the evolution of cooperative behaviour.

Lecture times: Monday - Friday, 5th period

DP requirements: Minimum of 40% for class record and attendance at weekend field camp.

Assessment: A 3-hour examination written in November, with a sub-minimum of 40%, will count for 50% of the course. Coursework marks will be allocated as follows: Practical classes (assessed weekly) count 20%; project based on field camp data collection counts 15%; two class tests count 15%.

 

BIO3017S   Marine Resources

36 NQF credits at HEQSF level 7

Convener: Associate Professor C Attwood

Course entry requirements: BIO2013F

Course outline:

Topics include the diversity and life-history strategies of living marine resources, the diversity of fishing methods and fisheries, surplus production and responses of exploited populations, monitoring and assessment techniques, regulatory strategies, non-consumptive industries, diversity and principles of marine aquaculture, and marine conservation theory and practise.

Lecture times: Monday - Friday, 3rd period

DP requirements: 50% for class record; submission of assignments on schedule.

Assessment: A 3-hour examination written in November, with a sub-minimum of 40% will count for 50% of the course. Coursework marks will be allocated as follows: Practical classes count 12%; project work counts 18%; two class tests count 20%.