BIOSCI 206 : Principles of Ecology


2020 Semester One (1203) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

An examination of ecosystem processes, factors that affect distribution and interactions of organisms, population ecology, and applications of ecology such as restoration and conservation. The key principles of ecology are taught in a New Zealand context emphasising an experimental approach.

Course Overview

The aim of this paper is to introduce the student to the field of ecology and ecological methods, including recent advances. The course starts by setting the broad physical constraints and distribution of abiotic factors that sets the canvas for all life on earth, both terrestrial and aquatic/marine. It then examines how organisms survive and interact in increasing scales of organization, from the individual, to populations, communities, ecosystems, landscapes and global scales. In delivery of the course, there is also a focus on developing both academic and practical skills for developing and addressing ecological questions in a scientifically rigorous manner and effectively interpreting and communicating results and conclusions.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: BIOSCI 101, 109, and STATS 101 or 108

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Understand how biotic and abiotic factors determine the distribution, diversity and abundance of populations and communities of organisms. (Capability 1)
  2. Understand ecosystem function and how ecological concepts apply at a range of scales (Capability 1)
  3. Critically evaluate and synthesise primary ecological literature on ecological concepts or ecosystems (Capability 2, 3 and 5)
  4. Use and apply scientific methods and processes to gather, analyse, interpret and/or synthesise data to draw conclusions and make scientifically based decisions. (Capability 2, 3 and 5)
  5. Develop an understanding of Māori and other multicultural perspectives and their relevance to the practice of ecologists. (Capability 4, 5 and 6)
  6. Communicate ecological concepts and experimental outcomes clearly and logically using language and formats appropriate for a scientific audience. (Capability 4, 5 and 6)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Wenderholm field trip report 15% Individual Coursework
Multi-day field trip experimental report 25% Individual Coursework
Midterm Test 25% Individual Test
Final Exam 35% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6
Wenderholm field trip report
Multi-day field trip experimental report
Midterm Test
Final Exam

Overall pass marks are required separately for both the practical (i.e. the two field trip reports) and theory (i.e. the midterm test and final exam) components of the course.

Key Topics

Modules include:
  • Course introduction, asking ecological questions, and  Māori perspectives on Ecology
  • Terrestrial and Marine Biomes 
  • Microbial and Molecular Ecology 
  • Individual and Population Ecology 
  • Community Ecology 
  • Ecosystem and Landscape Ecology
  • Biogeography and Macroecology
  • Applied Ecology

Learning Resources

Recommended (but not required) text book is

Molles MC (20cc). Ecology: concepts and applications. McGraw-Hill, Boston (various editions).

Special Requirements

The course includes two field trips off-campus. 

The first is scheduled for Saturday 21st March 2020 to Wenderholm. 

For the second, students choose among three options for 4-day field trips off-campus in mid-April (within the mid-semester break). Choices for these field trips are Kauaeranga Valley (plant ecology), Pureora Forest (animal ecology), and Whangarei (marine ecology). An alternative to this residential field trip is provided for those students whose personal circumstances mean it is inappropriate for them, or they will suffer hardship as a result. 

The mid-semester test is held during one evening.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 3 hours of lectures, 4 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 3 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation per week.

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website at

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page:

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter (


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 05/03/2020 09:29 p.m.