Part 1. Ecological Methods
5th August 1. Ecology: what is it and how is it done? (LB: Dr Linda Beaumont)
6th August 2. An introduction to ecological field sampling (KM: Dr Katherine McClellan)
Part 2. Organisms and their environment
12th August 3. Conditions, resources and the niche concept (LB)
13th August 4. Distributions (KM)
19th August 5. Global patterns of productivity (LB)
20th August 6. Effects of environment on life history (KM)
26th August 7. Population growth and intraspecific competition (LB)
Part 3. Interactions among species
27th August 8. Interspecific competition (KM)
2nd September 9. Predation (KM)
3rd September 10. Parasitism and disease (KM)
9th September 11. Facilitation (LB)
Part 4. Communities and ecosystems
10th September 12. Describing community structure: diversity and species richness (LB)
16th September 13. The more the merrier: why biodiversity matters (KM)
field trip preparation…
17th September 14. An introduction to the Smith’s Lake environment (KM)
7th October 15. Processes influencing community structure: disturbance and succession (LB)
8th October 16. Processes influencing community structure: island biogeography (LB)
14th October 17. The flux of energy through food webs (KM)
15th October 18. The flux of matter through food webs (KM)
21st October 19. Spatial subsidies: another time, another place (LB)
5. Applied ecological issues
22nd October 20. Ecological impact assessment (LB)
28th October 20. Restoration ecology (KM)
29th October 21. Invasive species and their management (KM)
4th November 22. Managed ecosystems: agriculture, fisheries and forestry (LB)
5th November 23. Global climate change (LB)
11th November Exam discussion, revision, 300-level unit information (LB/KM)
12th November No lecture – personal study for the exam
For all practical sessions (including Oral Presentations in weeks 5 and 6) you must be wearing covered shoes to be allowed entry to the labs and there is strictly no eating or drinking.
Timetable for internal students
(external students will be sent a timetable for the on-campus session in the mail)
Week 1 4-5 August Practical induction
Week 2 11-12 August Group Practical Part 1
Week 3 18-19 August Group Practical Part 2
Week 4 25-26 August Group Practical Part 3
Week 5 1-2 September Oral presentations
Week 6 8-9 September Oral presentations
Please meet at your designated laboratory. From there we will head up to the Biology Tea Room (E8A 280) to run through some safety issues pertaining to the pracs in weeks 2-4. We will also hold a question and answer session on sign-up, payment and requirements for the Smiths Lake field trip. We should be finished by 3 pm.
Group Practical Parts 1-3
The practicals during the first half of the semester are focused around the concept of problem-based learning. In Part 1, you will be taken for a walk around the campus and the nearby Ecology Reserve to introduce you to a number of ecosystems. During the walk, you will make observations regarding the distribution and abundance of organisms, from which you will develop research hypotheses. After returning to the lab you will form a group of 3-4 students, decide on a single hypothesis that you will test, and come up with the research plan. The plans will be discussed by the whole class so there is an opportunity for feedback. Once each plan is finalised, you will come up with a list of necessary equipment. In Part 2, the research plan will be carried out. In Part 3, there will be a tutorial on graphing and statistical analysis. You will have time to collate and process your results in your group. Full prac notes will be provided in the first week.
In weeks 2 and 3 you will be walking to the Macquarie University Ecology Reserve to collect data for the group practical. Please dress appropriately with sturdy walking shoes and long pants. Those who are not appropriately dressed will not be able to do the prac and will therefore lose the marks allocated to it. The prac will go ahead regardless of the weather, so bring rain gear if the weather looks doubtful.
Field trip (mid-semester break, September)
All students are required to attend a field trip at the UNSW Smiths Lake Field Station, near Bungwahl at the northern end of the Myall Lakes National Park. You may attend one of two sessions: A: 20-24 September OR B: 24-28 September. Students who have genuine clashes (e.g. other field trips, work or carer responsibilities; vacations are NOT a valid reason) will be given first preference of fieldtrip. Others are invited to indicate their preferred trip, with remaining places filled on a first-come first-served basis (it is important that we have equal numbers of students on each). Places on specific fieldtrips are not confirmed until full payment has been made. Sign-ups for field-trips will be done electronically via Google docs. The web link for sign-up will be made available on iLearn from Mon 11 August. Please sign up by the end of week 4 (Fri 29 August).
- Fishing on beautiful Smith Lake
- Nocturnal mammal spotlighting
- Early morning bird watching
- Native plant identification
- Getting to know your fellow students and many of the Biological Sciences staff
The cost of the excursion will be $170. This covers cost of food, transport, and a per capita accommodation charge (that goes to UNSW) for the use of the field station. This amount will be due by Fri 29 Aug (end of Week 4). Payment is to be made to the Cashier in the Student Centre (Level 1 Lincoln Bldg C8A). The appropriate forms for this are available in the field trip tab of ilearn and hard copies can be picked up in the first prac class. Once you have paid, please register your receipt number electronically via Google docs (link will be available in the field trip tab of ilearn from Mon 11 August). If you are having difficulty paying by the due date please speak to Linda Beaumont to make alternative arrangements. Otherwise, if you have not provided us with a receipt number Week 4, we will assume you are no longer enrolled in the unit.
Bus transport will be provided. The bus (company: Buses+4WD Hire) will leave Macquarie University from the bus stand on Macquarie Drive (outside E3A near the corner of Eastern Rd) at 8.30 am on Saturday 20th September (for students attending session A) and Wednesday 24th September (for students attending session B). Please arrive no later than 8:15 am. The bus will not wait for latecomers!
IMPORTANT: If you are running late or miss the bus please contact Andrew Irvine (0427 142 893) or Linda Beaumont (0431 528 574) to make alternative transport arrangements.
The bus will return from Bungwahl on the 24th September (session A; return to MQ around 5 pm) and 28th September (session B; return to MQ around 2 pm).
Those students who live out of Sydney and wish to take their own car should ask for permission when they select the session they want to attend. Since parking at the Field Station is limited, only those students with a genuine need to drive their own car will be given permission to do so.
Accommodation is primarily in bunk rooms (6-10 beds per room). Please bring your own bedding and pillow, keeping in mind that it is COLD at night (the rooms are not well insulated). A limited amount of space is also available for camping (BYO tent). Camping will be allocated on a first-come first-served basis.
For those making their own way, Smith Lake Field Station is situated about 3 km from Bungwahl (between Bulahdelah and Forster) off the Seal Rocks Rd.
Bungwahl is on the Lakes Way from Bulahdelah to Forster. Turn right to Forster (signposted) opposite a service station, 2 km north of Bulahdelah on the Pacific Highway. At Bungwahl turn east for Seal Rocks (again, signposted). After about 2 km turn left up a steepish dirt road opposite the Fisherman's Cooperative (well beyond the school and the last building on the right out of Bungwahl with a wide parking area around it and a petrol pump outside) and also opposite the turnoff to Myall Lakes National Park. On the dirt road, do not turn left after about 100m, but keep straight on for about 1.5 km. You will pass a private house on the left and then the Field Station is just over a bridge.
If travelling by car you should plan to arrive by 12:30 pm on Sat 20th Sept (session A) or Wed 24th Sept (session B). The field-trip plan will be explained over lunch and then there is work planned from 2 pm onwards. Travelling time from Macquarie Uni is approx. 3.5-4 hrs
What to bring
The field station has bunk beds, showers and toilets, and cooking and eating utensils.
You will need to bring:
- Sleeping bag
- Pillow and pillow case
- Toiletries, towel, sunscreen, insect repellent
- Clothing appropriate for field work in scratchy vegetation, including sturdy footwear, a hat and rain gear. There may be snakes about during the day if the weather is warm so long pants are recommended (and are required for the vegetation prac). It will be COLD at night.
- Swimming costume, shorts, sun top and sand shoes (you may be required to wade in waist-deep water in the lake). If you have a wet suit, bring it.
- Torch (if you want to go spotlighting)
- Binoculars (if you have them)
- Day pack to take things out in the field
- Water bottle
- Notebook, pens, calculator, notes etc
IMPORTANT: WHAT NOT TO BRING
We have unfortunately experienced some thefts at the field station. Please do not bring a lot of cash or valuables as we cannot ensure their safety.
You will spend a half day prac studying each of five different ecological communities: fish, birds, plants, aquatic invertebrates, and terrestrial invertebrates. One the last day you will be working in small groups to compare the distribution and abundance of organisms between two habitats of your choice. This project will form the basis of the second Practical Report (due Mon 20th Oct, all students). A detailed program will be provided on arrival at the field station.
Like the practicals, the field trip will involve some walking and perhaps scrambling over difficult terrain. If your health is likely to be adversely affected by exertion of this kind, you are strongly advised to discuss with a doctor whether you should undertake this course. While some of the staff attending the excursion have First Aid certificates, qualified medical assistance is some 40km from the Smith Lake Station. There will be first aid kits provided but no medication will be supplied.
So you must bring your own medication if required, including pain relief tablets and antihistamines.