BIOSCI 338 : Biology of Terrestrial Animals


2021 Semester One (1213) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

The animals of Aotearoa and Tāmaki Makaurau are iconic. We explore the biology, diversity and whakapapa of our native invertebrate and vertebrate animals. Along with a detailed coverage of biology, we focus on practical techniques for sampling and identifying species. This course involves both fieldwork (with the option to conduct this either on campus, or on an overnight fieldtrip) and labwork and training in using biodiversity data for hypothesis testing and scientific communication.

Course Overview

Welcome! Join us for an enjoyable, inspiring, and practical course exploring our region's wonderful local animals. From pupurangi (kauri snails) and ngaokeoke (velvet worms), to te aitanga pepeke (the insects), and manu, pepeketua and moko (birds, frogs and reptiles) - we focus on native animals, their features, natural history, evolution, and relationships with people, places, and other species. We are inspired by a tuakana-teina approach in which the knowledge of all students and staff is valued and can be shared. Our accessible class involves daytime lectures, labs and fieldtrips, and no overnight trips or evening tests.  
Our course is designed for students interested in a career involving native animals, zoology, taxonomy, ecology, biosecurity, conservation or management. We focus on practical skills in finding, surveying, documenting, and identifying animals, and archiving specimens and data. We connect with key employers, such as Auckland Museum, Auckland Botanic Gardens, and Auckland Zoo.
This course is taught in person and is not available as an online course since it requires access to native animals. We warmly welcome all local and international students with an interest in nature and animals.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: BIOSCI 207 Restriction: BIOSCI 320

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. Describe the diversity, relationships, whakapapa, evolution and features of Aotearoa's native land animals (Capability 1, 2, 5 and 6)
  2. Identify native invertebrates such as pūngāwerewere (spiders) and pepeke (insects), and native vertebrates such as manu (birds) and moko (reptiles), using identification guides and keys. (Capability 1, 3 and 4)
  3. Create museum-quality collections of insects and recorded bird vocalisations, including finding, documenting, identifying, labelling, and databasing specimens. (Capability 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  4. Apply field and software-based techniques to analyse the biodiversity and traits of terrestrial animals for diverse approaches, such as citizen science, natural history, conservation or theoretical research. (Capability 1, 3, 5 and 6)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Assignment: nature journal 30% Group & Individual Coursework
Assignment: insect collection 25% Individual Coursework
Assignment: bird call collection 15% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 30% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4
Assignment: nature journal
Assignment: insect collection
Assignment: bird call collection
Final Exam


We have no formal Tuākana program, but we connect closely with current and past tuākana and teina and can help connect any students that would like to form study groups.

Key Topics

Our course involves diverse ways of learning and knowing about Aotearoa's animals, including mātauranga Māori, natural history, ecology and taxonomy, and both theory and practical elements. 
- We have four 2-3 week lecture blocks on these animal groups: invertebrates (e.g. snails, worms, spiders), insects, reptiles and frogs, and birds. We focus entirely on native animals, especially those from our local region.
- In labs and fieldtrips we will connect with the Botanic Gardens, Museum, and Zoo and learn insect and bird identification skills
- The nature journal assignment involves choosing a location (e.g. a spot on campus, in your garden, at the Botanic Gardens etc.), for 4 activities to document the place, identify the animals (e.g. insects, birds, leaflitter invertebrates), and explore the biological, ecological and cultural reasons why those animals are there. Each student will need to develop and submit their own nature journal, but you can make your observations in a small group, or individually. 
- The insect collection involves catching, pinning and identifying insects (we will lend you the equipment). The bird vocalisation collection involves recording, identifying and analysing bird sounds.

Special Requirements

There are no overnight trips. We will have 2 optional day trips on weekends to assist with the insect and bird sound collections. Labs may involve visits to other institutions, e.g. Auckland Museum.

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 36 hours of lectures, 5 x 3hr labs, 2 x 8 hr daytime field trips, and ~5hrs per week of self-directed study.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is expected at scheduled activities including labs and fieldtrips.
Lectures will be available as recordings. Other learning activities including labs and fieldtripsnot be available as recordings.

Attendance on campus is required for the exam.
The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable. 

Learning Resources

All course materials are provided on Canvas. Please contact the course coordinator if you would like them to print you a copy of the course guide. There are no prescribed text books.

We will lend you equipment for collecting and pinning insects. We can also lend gear such as raincoats so you can enjoy and be comfortable on our fieldtrips.

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.

Feedback is welcome anytime! 

Other Information

Thanks for considering enrolling in our new course. The Lecturers are Jacqueline Beggs, Anne Gaskett (coordinator), Greg Holwell, and Kristal Cain. We are excited about teaching this course and look forward to meeting you. 

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.

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.


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.

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

We warmly welcome diverse people - nau mai, haere mai: tangata whenua, Pacifika, people with disabilities, from a refugee background, gender diverse, international, mature age, LGBTQITakatāpui+, parents and carers, part-time students - all welcome.

Contact the course coordinator to check the accessibility and facilities at our fieldtrips, or if you need to bring an accompanying person, a disability support dog, or to arrange anything else we can do to facilitate your full participation and enjoyment of our course and your academic success. Thanks for joining us - we look forward to meeting you.

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.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and your assessment is fair, and not compromised. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the University Website for information about how to proceed.

Level 1:  Delivered normally as specified in delivery mode 
Level 2: You will not be required to attend in person.  All teaching and assessment will have a remote option.  The following activities will also have an on campus / in person option: labs and field trips.
Level 3 / 4: All teaching activities and assessments are delivered remotely

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 23/01/2021 01:08 p.m.