BIMWL2-Vertebrate Survey and Assessment

Module Provider: School of Biological Sciences
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Dr Phil Baker


Summary module description:

This module aims to provide students with an understanding of the methods used to survey and monitor vertebrate populations, with particular emphasis on mammals and birds within the UK although other taxonomic groups will also be considered.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module it is expected that the student will be able to:
•Identify and describe a variety of birds, mammals and other vertebrate species resident within the UK
•Describe and critically assess current survey and research methods used by governmental and non-governmental organisations to survey and monitor vertebrates in the UK
•Describe and discuss the legislation and legislative restrictions associated with the study of vertebrates within the UK
•Apply appropriate analytical techniques to the analysis of capture-mark-recapture data
•Apply appropriate analytical techniques to the analysis of data collected according to “DISTANCE” methodologies

Additional outcomes:
The module will also provide the students with an opportunity to develop their written and analytical skills, and to gain first-hand experience of the work conducted by e.g. ecological consultants and organisations associated with the monitoring of vertebrate populations within the UK.

Outline content:
The module will cover a range of techniques used to survey and monitor vertebrate populations within the UK, including sign surveys, DISTANCE sampling, capture-mark-recapture and breeding bird surveys. In each case, particular attention will be given to the legislative issues associated with surveying and monitoring different species and how each species is monitored currently within the UK by governmental and non-governmental organisations. For some components of the module, we will discuss and practice the analytical techniques associated with these survey techniques.

Students will apply one of these techniques as part of their continuous assessment.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
The module will consist of a series of lectures and computer-based sessions, conducted in conjunction with field trips to illustrate / practice the techniques discussed. Lectures will be delivered by a combination of Reading University staff and parties from outside the university.

As some work involves the use of live animals, some sessions will be conducted early in the morning or late in the evening.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20
Practicals classes and workshops 5
Fieldwork 20
External visits 20
Guided independent study 35
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Other information on summative assessment:
Coursework: Students working individually in small groups will be expected to produce a report in the form of a scientific paper based on data on the abundance of selected bird species on the University’s Whiteknights campus. These data will need to be analysed using DISTANCE software.

Relative percentage of coursework: 100%

Formative assessment methods:
Students will conduct a group exercise in which they have to collaboratively design a bird survey, and then collect and analyse the data before writing the results individually in the form of a scientific paper. As a collaborative exercise, students will have the opportunity to discuss the different approaches available amongst themselves, as well as with the module convenor. In addition, students will have access to a range of external speakers and organisations with whom they will be able to critically discuss the topics covered in the module as a whole.

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:
A mark of at least 50%

Reassessment arrangements:
Resubmission of coursework

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
1) Required text books:
2) Specialist equipment or materials:
3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
4) Printing and binding:
5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

Last updated: 21 December 2016

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