BIOSCI 394 : Conservation Ecology


2020 Semester One (1203) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Conservation of species and ecosystems. Population ecology, population growth, harvesting and pest control, marine and terrestrial conservation practice, forest and fisheries management. Impacts and control of invasive species. Population viability analysis and case studies in the conservation of threatened species. International conservation.

Course Overview

The course is structured into a series of lecture modules covering subjects including what biodiversity is, threats to biodiversity, species level conservation, ecosystem conservation and management processes for conservation outcomes. We discuss conservation in relation to ecology, management, social science, economics and Mātauranga Māori. Throughout the course, international and New Zealand examples are used to illustrate the practical realities of applying ecological knowledge to conservation problems. Students should be prepared to participate in discussions and activities during the lectures. We have a one-day field trip early in the course in which we undertake an ecological site assessment for a forest reserve, in the same way ecological consultancies might undertake such a survey. We also  undertake a population viability modelling lab to simulate how managers assess risk to threatened species.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: BIOSCI 104 and 30 points at Stage II in either Biological Sciences or Geography

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 ecological knowledge can be applied to conservation problems, and how disciplines other than ecology are critical for solving these problems. (Capability 1 and 2)
  2. Critically evaluate information from different sources and assess the robustness of that information in relation to conservation problems. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6)
  3. Working in a team apply understanding to a real world example in the field: develop research skills, including the ability to collect, synthesise and interpret data using numeracy skills. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6)
  4. Interpret the results of data and modelling, and apply understanding of these data by developing and communicating well-reasoned conservation management recommendations to stakeholders in report form. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6)
  5. Develop an understanding and appreciation for conservation ethics, and critically self-assess both academic performance and integrity. (Capability 1, 2, 5 and 6)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Conservation Conundrums: 1080 debate 20% Individual Coursework
Ecological Site Assessment Report 40% Individual Coursework
Population Viability Analysis lab 10% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 30% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5
Conservation Conundrums: 1080 debate
Ecological Site Assessment Report
Population Viability Analysis lab
Final Exam
A pass must be obtained in BOTH the practical and the theory to pass any science paper as a whole (BSc regulation 5). Marks cannot be transferred from one section to another.  

Learning Resources

A course guide will be available on Canvas before the beginning of semester. The course structure is loosely based on this textbook: Primack RB (2010) Essentials of Conservation Biology. (Sinauer) , but there are multiple copies available in the library and we do not expect you to purchase your own copy. Your main source of reading should be material published in the peer reviewed scientific literature. 

Special Requirements

Students will be expected to participate in a mid-week one-day field trip (approx. 830am-430pm) to a reserve in the Auckland region. This is essential to being able to write the 40% report for assessment. Toilets are available at the fieldsite, but there are no shops so students must bring their lunch. Please discuss any accessibility issues with the course coordinator, we are able to adjust for student needs.

Workload Expectations

This course is designed so that a minimum (for a pass) of 150 hours should be spent on this course by students.

   Contact hours (41): 32 lectures/tutorials + 8 hour field trip + 1 hour PVA lab

Non-contact hours: We expect you to spend reasonable amounts of time on internal coursework, ie. to make up to 150 hours on the course (these estimates include library/reading time). 

Coursework (70): Assignment 1:    20 hours + Assignment 2:  40 hours + Assignment 3:  10 hours

The remainder of the time should be spent on studying for the final exam. 

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.

Lectures will recorded for this course and available on Canvas. However, considerable lecture time may be edited out to avoid breaching copyright (with video material particularly) and to remove class discussion so that it does not breach confidentiality or reduce your willingness to participate openly. There is considerable discussion in this course which we think is a critical part of learning and prepares you for postgraduate studies and the workplace. Powerpoints and other resources will be available on Canvas.


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.

Published on 12/02/2020 08:12 p.m.