ECOL08003 2020 Advanced Eco-monitoring for Conservation

General Details

Full Title
Advanced Eco-monitoring for Conservation
Transcript Title
Advanced Eco-monitoring for Co
75 %
Subject Area
ECOL - Ecology
ESCI - Environmental Science
08 - NFQ Level 8
10 - 10 Credits
Start Term
2020 - Full Academic Year 2020-21
End Term
9999 - The End of Time
Declan Feeney, Frances Lucy, Noel Connaughton, Ana Vale, Dolores Byrne
Programme Membership
SG_SECOL_H08 202000 Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Environmental Science with Ecology

This module will provide in-depth insight and into topical conservation issues on the national, EU and global stage. Building on the skills developed in Ecological Monitoring (semester 5), the module will provide training for assessing conservation status of terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems and in key eco-monitoring methods, with a focus on protected species and habitats. Delivery will be through lectures and practicals, providing training in laboratory and field-based monitoring techniques.

Learning Outcomes

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


Demonstrate ability to critically analyse topical conservation issues


Explain the interaction of policies, regulation and pressures on conservation issues 


Be competent in identifying indicators for conservation monitoring and evaluation


Demonstrate proficiency in designing and undertaking appropriate ecological monitoring methods relevant to conservation and ecosystem management


Conduct advanced ecological monitoring surveys of a selected habitat or ecosystem


Complete a report in relation to the ecological survey, including mapping, analysis, interpretation and identification of conservation issues and improved management practices 


Competently communicate scientific findings and results

Teaching and Learning Strategies

This module will be delivered full time (or part-time for online modules). This will include lectures, with 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. uploading assignments). 

Module Assessment Strategies

The module will be assessed using a combination of end of semester final exam (40%) and continuous assessment and course work (60%).

The final exam will assess knowledge gained from both the practical classes and the lectures associated with each practical. 

The continuous assessment and course work will involve three assignments where students will be required to (i) undertake an advanced ecological survey of an ecosystem during practical sessions and report on findings in the form of a comprehensive environmental report; (ii) present their findings as a poster, with an accompanying question and answer session; and (iii) present a synthesis of an ecological monitoring technique and its application.

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

Conservation - concept and interaction with eco-monitoring

  • Topical conservation issues in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems - these topics will be regularly updated to reflect emerging conservation interests and issues
  • How eco-monitoring informs concepts and practicalities of conservation, restoration, mitigation and compensation
  • Wider drivers of eco-monitoring and conservation, e.g. the Sustainable Development Goals, green financing etc

Ecological monitoring 

  • Rationale for eco-monitoring, e.g. legislation, target driven conservation/restoration, knowledge gaps etc
  • Insight into rapid and long-term ecological monitoring studies
  • Advanced and emerging ecological survey techniques
  • Biosecurity and biomonitoring
  • Sampling strategies for rare, notable and/or protected habitats and species (indicators)
  • Sampling techniques - direct (observations, counts, trapping etc) and indirect (field-survey signs, surveillance, camera traps)
  • Designing eco-monitoring strategies and protocols - standard methodologies and emerging concepts
  • Advantages and disadvantages of ecological sampling and monitoring techniques

Eco-monitoring legislation and licences

  • Legislative context of surveying, licence applications and conditions
  • Case law impacting on eco-monitoring requirements and standards (updated as relevant)

Eco-monitoring practicals

A selection of the following practicals will be undertaken:

  • Mixture of field and laboratory based eco-monitoring practicals covering aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems
  • Designing a data recording sheet
  • Protected/rare/notable species monitoring methods (e.g. birds, bats, white-clawed crayfish, otter, smooth newt, badger, invertebrates, invasive species)
  • Mammal survey techniques (e.g. camera trapping, longworth traps etc)
  • Advanced habitat and plant assessment (e.g. using National Parks and Wildlife methodologies, including Article 17 reporting criteria)
  • Introduction to remote ecological monitoring (e.g. satellite data, use of drones and LIDAR)
  • Collection of data, analysis, interpretation and presentation of findings

Collection of data, analysis, interpretation and presentation of findings will be integrated into practical sessions.

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 Practical evaluation - lab and field note-book Continuous Assessment Practical Evaluation 15 % End of Semester 1,2,7
2 Written reports - two reports on practical work and set assignment Continuous Assessment Written Report 30 % OnGoing 4,5,6
3 Presentation (Poster and Question & Answer Session) Continuous Assessment Assessment 15 % Week 12 5,6,7

End of Semester / Year Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Examination Final Exam Closed Book Exam 40 % End of Semester 1,2,3

Full Time Mode Workload

Type Location Description Hours Frequency Avg Workload
Lecture Lecture Theatre Lecture 2 Weekly 2.00
Laboratory Practical Not Specified Practical 4 Weekly 4.00
Independent Learning Not Specified Independent learning 8 Weekly 8.00
Total Full Time Average Weekly Learner Contact Time 6.00 Hours

Required & Recommended Book List

Required Reading
2018-05-30 Effective Ecological Monitoring CSIRO Publishing
ISBN 1486308929 ISBN-13 9781486308927
Recommended Reading
2018-12-25 Mammalogy Techniques Lab Manual Johns Hopkins University Press
ISBN 1421426072 ISBN-13 9781421426075
Recommended Reading
2017-02-28 Mapping Ecosystem Services Pensoft

Mapping ecosystem services delivers essential insights into the spatial characteristics of various goods and services flows from nature to human society. It has become a central topic of science, policy, business and society all belonging on functioning ecosystems.
This textbook summarises the current state-of-the-art of ecosystem services mapping, related theory and methods, different ecosystem service quantification and modelling approaches as well as practical applications. The book is produced by various international experts in the field, in a professional but understandable format to be used by stakeholders, students, teachers, practitioners and scientists involved or interested in ecosystem services mapping.

Benjamin Burkhard is a professor for physical geography at Leibniz Universitt
Hannover, Germany. He is doing research and teaching in geography and landscape ecology and has been involved in ecosystem services mapping since many years.
Joachim Maes is a researcher at the European Commissions Joint Research Centre in Ispra, Italy. He is engaged in the scientific support of EU biodiversity policy and
develops maps of ecosystem services at European scale.

Module Resources

Journal Resources

Useful journals include, but are not limited to:

Journal of Applied Ecology 

Journal of Ecology

Journal of Animal Ecology

Ecological Indicators


URL Resources

National Parks and Wildlife ( provides technical notes and specific guidance on ecological monitoring for habitats and species

CIEEM (Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management) - Guide to Ecological Surveys and their Purpose

CIEEM Technical Guidance Series - 

The Copernicus satellite data including CORINE land cover -

MAES (Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services) -

Bat survey techniques -

Herpetological survey techniques -


Other Resources

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

Additional Information