BIMPK12-Vegetation Survey and Assessment

Module Provider: School of Biological Sciences
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2014/5

Module Convenor: Dr Jonathan Mitchley


Summary module description:

•To develop practical identification skills for higher and lower plants (vascular plants and mosses and lichens);
•To introduce and practice the main methods of vegetation survey used in UK conservation and ecological assessment: Phase 1 Habitat Survey mapping and target notes;
•To introduce Phase 2 (National Vegetation Classification) survey, including practice quadrat surveys and analysing data using keys, the NVC volumes and appropriate software (e.g. MAVIS);
•To analyse vegetation data using multivariate analysis, especially Indirect Ordination (e.g. Detrended Correspondence Analysis (DCA) using the CANOCO package) and to interpret the results in terms of factors affecting vegetation composition.

Assessable learning outcomes:
•To identify a wide range of common higher and lower plant species found in and around Berkshire using living material in the lab and in the field, using herbarium material and using keys;
•To carry out Phase 1 habitat survey and present the results to industry standards;
•To understand the concept of phytosociological analysis, to design and carry out a Phase 2 quadrat survey and use the “National Vegetation Classification” to analyse the data (e.g. using MAVIS), to identify different vegetation types and write up the results to industry standards;
•To recognize a range of NVC vegetation types in the field and from written descriptions and species lists and to discuss the factors controlling their composition;
•To understand the principles of multivariate data analysis and interpreting the results using Indirect Ordination, e.g. DCA using CANOCO.

Additional outcomes:

Outline content:
•Plant ID (vascular plants, bryophytes and lichens) using living material and herbarium material and keys to identify plants in vegetative and flowering condition;
•Using low and high power light microscopes to aid identification of higher and lower plants;
•UK Phase 1 Habitat Survey methodology and practice;
•UK Phase 2 vegetation survey methodology and practice;
•Data analysis and identifying plant communities from field data using the NVC volumes and keys and appropriate software;
•Ecological interpretation of vegetation data (e.g. using Ellenberg’s indices);
•Data analysis using multivariate statistics including hands-on practice using Excel. Multivariate data analysis including hands-on practice using the CANOCO package.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Lectures, workshops, lab sessions for plant ID or data analysis, field classes for vegetation survey and data collection and plant ID, computer lab session for data analysis.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10 10
Seminars 10 10
Practicals classes and workshops 30 30
Fieldwork 30 30
Guided independent study 20 20
Total hours by term 100.00 100.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Report 25
Portfolio 20
Practical skills assessment 20
Set exercise 15
Class test administered by School 20

Other information on summative assessment:
1.Vegetation/species blog (week 4 autumn term, 5%).
2.Phase 1 Survey (week 7 autumn term, 10%).
3.Phase 2 Survey (week 2 spring term, 15%).
4.Seminar and data analysis exercise (week 7 spring term, 20%).
5.Plant ID tests (bi-weekly and week 8 spring term, 20%.
6.Plant collection (week 1 summer term, 20%).
7.Species list (week 2 summer term, 10%).

Relative percentage of coursework: 100%

Formative assessment methods:
Bi-weekly plant ID formative tests
Field walks
Practice key sessions
Practice data analysis session

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information:

Length of examination:

Requirements for a pass:

Reassessment arrangements:
Submission of additional coursework

Last updated: 30 May 2014

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