Plant Diversity - Modules
UK Field Course
Where plant identification and other field botany skills are concerned there is no substitute for hands on learning in the field. For this reason this module is field-based and teaches methods of recording and classifying vegetation and interpreting vegetation patterns in relation to environmental factors. Students have the opportunity to advance their skills in plant identification and vegetation survey and assessment in a range of plant communities.
Local field trips will take place in the Autumn and Spring Terms to explore a range of plant species and vegetation types. During the Summer Term there is an extended residential field course in Cornwall to one of Britain's botanical hotspots providing students with an intensive fieldwork experience studying the vegetation of the Lizard peninsular - the southernmost point of the UK mainland. The course is designed to develop students' plant and vegetation identification skills to a very high level through daily field excursions to a range of habitats including beach, woodland, grassland and the outstanding local coastal cliffs and coastal heathland. The trip includes an in-depth, behind-the-scenes visit to the Eden Project and the Stonehenge World Heritage site.
Students will gain experience of carrying out quadrat surveys and use of the data collected to identify and classify vegetation according to the National Vegetation Classification (NVC) and team skills through problem-solving practical exercises.
After completing this module, students should be able to recognise and identify a very wide range of common British vascular plants as well as bryophytes and lichens, and through the development of keying skills to identify with confidence some of the more difficult species and local rarities. Students should be able to apply the principles and practice gained to attempt the identification of any higher or lower plant from the UK, Continental Europe and elsewhere. Students should understand the principles of vegetation classification and be able to recognise a range of vegetation types in the UK and to interpret the vegetation patterns in relation to environmental factors such as soils, climate and management.
Assignments include: Written species and vegetation reports, ID tests held during the field days and field course and compiling an annotated species list of all vascular and non-vascular plants seen during the module.
This module is 20 credits and the local field sessions run in the Autumn and Spring terms and the residential field course in the Summer Term and it is taught by Dr Jonathan Mitchley & Dr Alastair Culham.
N.B. Students will require good physical fitness to undertake this field course in demanding and sometimes remote locations. MSc applicants will need to make sure that they can dedicate the necessary time to this residential module.