GV3ESM-Ecosystems Modelling

Module Provider: Geography and Environmental Science
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Dr Shovonlal Roy

Email: shovonlal.roy@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:

This module concentrates on modelling ecological dynamics with emphasis to ecosystems on land and in the ocean, which are relevant to a range of global issues, from environmental changes to food security, including the earth’s primary production, oxygen generation, and carbon fixation. This module will cover techniques and aspects required for in-depth understanding the ecosystems function and dynamics. The contents, both technical and general, will be presented in a way suitable for final year UG or masters’ students with little or no experience in ecosystem modelling, but those who are interested in understanding the building blocks of it, and applying it to the stat-of-the-art environmental and ecological systems.

To provide detailed understanding of the building blocks of ecological models, from empirical to mathematical, for better understanding the ecosystem processes, and the dynamics of species interactions within food webs; and for applying the models combined with observations, both from laboratory experiments and remote sensing, for understanding, monitoring and managing ecosystems under environmental perturbations.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module the students should be able to: ?
(1)Implement the ecological principles in mathematical/statistical modeling of ecosystems
(2)Simulate or analyse a range of dynamic ecosystem models
(3)Analyse the key biological/physical factors/parameters responsible for changes in ecosystem dynamics
(4)Understand how environmental models are used and misused
(5)Use the state-of-the-art observations, such as satellite remote sensing, to better understand ecosystem dynamics

Additional outcomes:
Students will develop advanced quantitative skills, and important IT skills. They will work in groups to solve numerical problems, participate in scientific discussions, and build critical opinions on recent and advanced research works published in peer-reviewed journals.

Outline content:

The module will cover the following topics: - Building ecological models from the first principle, through understanding the ecological and environmental processes, and using those to various ecosystems. - Sensitivity studies on environmental models - Modelling primary production, and applying to land and oceanic ecosystems - Species growth models, and population dynamics - Species interactions within food webs - Biogeochemical interactions and modelling - Satellite remote sensing for ecosystem studies Computer-based practicals: - Statistical analysis/model of ecological data - Building and exploring interaction models - Uses of satellite remote-sensing data Workshops/discussions: - Critical evaluation of a selected list of research articles - Group discussions on specific aspects of published research - Writing individual reports with input from group discussions

Global context:

Ecosystem function and dynamics are related to the earth’s primary production, oxygen generation, and fixation of carbon biomass, both on land and in the oceans. Therefore, detailed understanding of the dynamics of ecosystems is very important. This module will provide a platform for the students of final year or masters to understand and develop some of the most useful mathematical/statistical techniques and aspects of ecosystem modelling, which would be relevant for advanced studies, and for ecosystem research.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Lectures, seminars, practical classes, workshops/group discussions

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 12
Seminars 4
Practicals classes and workshops 22
Guided independent study 162
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 20
Report 70
Oral assessment and presentation 10

Other information on summative assessment:

Formative assessment methods:
Written assignment including essay, workshop/group discussion and performance in

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:

    Requirements for a pass:

    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: 31 March 2017

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