ECOL06007 2019 Terrestrial Ecology

General Details

Full Title
Terrestrial Ecology
Transcript Title
Terrestrial Ecology
75 %
Subject Area
ECOL - Ecology
ESCI - Environmental Science
06 - NFQ Level 6
05 - 05 Credits
Start Term
2019 - Full Academic Year 2019-20
End Term
9999 - The End of Time
Ann-Marie Duddy, Declan Feeney, Frances Lucy, Noel Connaughton, Dolores Byrne, Ana Vale
Programme Membership
SG_SECOL_B07 202000 Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science with Ecology SG_SENVI_B07 201900 Bachelor of Science in Science in Environmental Protection SG_SENVI_H08 201900 Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Science in Environmental Science SG_SECOL_H08 202000 Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Environmental Science with Ecology SG_SECOL_C06 202000 Higher Certificate in Science in Environmental Science with Ecology SG_SSCIE_B07 201900 Bachelor of Science in Science SG_SSCIE_H08 201900 Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Science SG_SSCIE_C06 201900 Higher Certificate in Science in Science

This module introduces the fundamental concepts of terrestrial ecology through developing an understanding of the abiotic and biotic interactions of terrestrial ecosystems. It includes examples from a range of terrestrial ecosystems including coastal, peatlands and heathlands, grasslands and forests. Students are introduced to the terrestrial environment and life in terrestrial ecosystems. The abiotic and biotic components of various terrestrial ecosystems are described and reinforced by practical elements covering the sampling and classification of terrestrial habitats and their communities.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module the learner will/should be able to;


Describe the fundamental ecological concepts of populations, communities and environment interactions of a range of twerrestrial ecosystems (peatland, grassland, forest and coastal)


Demonstrate an understanding of the biotic and abiotic components of a range of terrestrial ecosystems


Recognise the dynamics of terrestrial ecosystems and explain energy flow and nutrient cycling in a range of terrestrial ecosystems


Identify and classify terrestrial habitats using both Irish and international habitat classification systems


Collect and interpret sample data from selected terrestrial habitats

Teaching and Learning Strategies

This module will be delivered full-time (or part-time for online modules). This will include lectures, laboratory practicals, and site visits augmented by independent learning and directed learning. This approach is expected to address student learning needs. Moodle will be used as a repository of educational resources and as a means of assessment (e.g. quizzes, uploading assignments and journals).

Module Assessment Strategies

Module will be assessed using a combination of end of semester final exam (40%), continuous assessment and course work (60%). The continuous assessment and course work will involve two in class theory assessments incorporating short and multiple choice questions in mid/late semester. Practical work will be assessed via a laboratory and field notebook and two written scientific reports which examine the students ability to collect, interpret and report on terrestrial ecological survey data (summative and diagnostic assessment).

The student must reach an assigned gate (mark) in the final exam and achieve 40% overall to pass the subject.


Repeat Assessments

Repeat Continuous Assessment and/or Final Exam

Indicative Syllabus

Indicative theory and practicals, at the discretion of the lecturer, to meet the learning outcomes.

Introduction to terrestrial ecology

  • Concepts of populations, communities and ecosystems
  • Ecosystem services and Sustainable Development Goals

The terrestrial environment

  • Terrestrial ecosystem structure
  • Terrestrial food webs and trophic structure

Terrestrial biomes

  • Types and distributions of biomes
  • Factors influencing biomes

Soils and vegetation

  • Introduction to soils and how they support vegetation and ecosystems
  • Soil biota
  • Soil ecosystem services

Vegetation and plant communities

  • Structure of plant communities 
  • Methods to assess structure of plant communities (e.g. Raunkaier life forms)

Terrestrial plant-herbivore interactions

  • How plant-herbivore interactions occur within ecosystems
  • Food web and community dynamics
  • Impacts of interactions at ecosystem level

Introduction to structure and function of a range of terrestrial ecosystems

  • Field-based sampling to measure and assess a range of terrestrial parameters in terrestrial ecosystems e.g. peatlands, grasslands, forests
  • Laboratory practicals to identify, quantify and explore plants and other parameters from terrestrial ecosystems

Coursework & Assessment Breakdown

Coursework & Continuous Assessment
60 %
End of Semester / Year Formal Exam
40 %

Coursework Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 In-class assessment - short and multiple choice questions Continuous Assessment Multiple Choice 10 % Week 6 1,2,3
2 In-class assessment - short and multiple choice questions Continuous Assessment Multiple Choice 10 % Week 12 1,2,3
3 Practical Evaluation - lab and field notebook (accurate record of practical work) Continuous Assessment Practical Evaluation 15 % OnGoing 2,4,5
4 Written Report - two written scientific reports on practical work Continuous Assessment Assignment 25 % OnGoing 4,5

End of Semester / Year Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Final Exam Theory end of semester examination Final Exam Closed Book Exam 40 % End of Term 1,2,3

Full Time Mode Workload

Type Location Description Hours Frequency Avg Workload
Lecture Lecture Theatre Theory lectures 2 Weekly 2.00
Laboratory Practical Science Laboratory Laboratory practicals and field trips 2 Weekly 2.00
Independent Learning UNKNOWN Independent learning 3 Weekly 3.00
Total Full Time Average Weekly Learner Contact Time 4.00 Hours

Required & Recommended Book List

Required Reading
2011-12-15 Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology: Principles and Applications Cambridge University Press
ISBN 1107648254 ISBN-13 9781107648258

Human activities impact the environment and modify the cycles of important elements such as carbon and nitrogen from local to global scales. In order to maintain long-term and sustainable use of the world's natural resources it is important that we understand how and why ecosystems respond to such changes. This book explains the structure and functioning of terrestrial ecosystems, using examples ranging from the Arctic to the tropics to demonstrate how they react under differing conditions. This knowledge is developed into a set of principles that can be used as starting points for analysing questions about ecosystem behaviour. Ecosystem dynamics are also considered, illustrating how ecosystems develop and change over a range of temporal and spatial scales and how they react to perturbations, whether natural or man-made. Throughout the book, descriptive studies are merged with simple mathematical models to reinforce the concepts discussed and aid the development of predictive tools.

Recommended Reading
2011-09-02 Principles of Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology Springer

Features review questions at the end of each chapter; Includes suggestions for recommended reading; Provides a glossary of ecological terms; Has a wide audience as a textbook for advanced undergraduate students, graduate students and as a reference for practicing scientists from a wide array of disciplines

Module Resources

Non ISBN Literary Resources

Orgiazzi, A., Bardgett, R.D., Barrios, E., Behan-Pelletier, V., Briones, M.J.I., Chotte, J-L., De Deyn, G.B., Eggleton, P., Fierer, N., Fraser, T., Hedlund, K., Jeffery, S., Johnson, N.C., Jones, A., Kandeler, E., Kaneko, N., Lavelle, P., Lemanceau, P., Miko, L., Montanarella, L., Moreira, F.M.S., Ramirez, K.S., Scheu, S., Singh, B.K., Six, J., van der Putten, W.H., Wall, D.H. (Eds.). (2016). Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas. European Commission, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg. 176 pp.

Agren, G.I. & Andersson, F.O. 2012. Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology Principles and Applications. Cambridge University Press

Gibson, D.J. 2009. Grasses and Grassland Ecology. Oxford University Press.

Barnes, B.V., Zak, D.R., Denton, S.R. & Spurr, S.H. 1998. Forest Ecology. 4th Edition. Wiley & Sons

Parnell, J.A., Curtis, T. and Cullen, E. (2012). Webbs An Irish Flora. Cork University Press

Journal Resources

Journal of Applied Ecology

Journal of Ecology

Journal of Agriculture, Ecology and Environment

URL Resources

National Parks and Wildlife Service -

National Biodiversity Data Centre -

Centre for Ecology and Hydrology -

Environment Protection Agency -

Heritage Council -

Ecosystem Service Partnership -

Natural Capital Coalition -

UN Sustainable Development Goals -

Other Resources

Additional resources will be made available on IT Sligo learn online system (Moodle) at the discretion of the lecturer. Will contain pdfs of powerpoint lectures and links to additional reading material for selected topics.

Additional Information