BIOSCI 395 : Pacific Biogeography and Biodiversity


2023 Semester Two (1235) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Island biogeography and insular biodiversity across the Pacific. A multi-disciplinary approach involving the study of both plant and animal systematics and biogeography.

Course Overview

The Pacific is Earth's largest ocean. It has the greatest diversity of island sizes, ranging from New Guinea, the largest of tropical islands, to tiny atolls of a few hectares. It also has the greatest diversity of island ages (from the ancient isolate, New Caledonia, to recently emerged volcanoes) and distances from source (from islands lying only a few km away from giant New Guinea, to the most isolated of Earth's archipelagos, Hawaii). Because of this range of diversity amongst the key variables identified in the Equilibrium Theory of Island Biogeography, there is no better place to study the discipline. Indeed, much of the seminal work that has led to the development of Biogeography as an important component of the Life Sciences arises from research done in the Pacific Basin. This course will cover many aspects of Pacific studies, drawing on the combined knowledge of a number of prominent researchers and teachers with a great range of collective experience across Oceania. That diverse assemblage of lecturers will present a programme of studies that should leave you with a multi-faceted understanding of the Geology, Geography and Biology of this important region.

The course is designed for students with an interest in ecology and evolution at landscape scale in the biological sub-discipline of Biogeography. As such it equips graduates for post graduate programmes in landscape scale studies of ecology and evolution, and for careers in land management in agencies such as Regional Councils and Dept of Conservation. It also equips students very well for overseas study and employment particularly in Oceania.

The course forms part of the stage 3 component of the Ecology Pathway in School of Biological Sciences.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: BIOSCI 109 or GEOG 101

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. Demonstrate an understanding of the Equilibrium Theory of Island Biogeography (ETIB) as the core paradigm in biogeographic thinking. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  2. Analyse and critically address issues in biogeography in terms of the ETIB. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  3. Draw upon the extensive literature in the discipline to evaluate concepts and issues in the field of biogeography. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  4. Communicate effectively in the context of issues involved with other disciplines in biology the importance of the ETIB to problem solving and solution seeking. This is particularly important to conservation biology and reserve design. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
I/C Test 30% Individual Test
Essay 10% Individual Coursework
Laboratory Assignments 30% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 30% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4
I/C Test
Laboratory Assignments
Final Exam

Students must independently pass the theory [I/C Test + Exam] and practical [Essay + Laboratory Assignments] independently to pass the course overall.


Tuākana Science is a multi-faceted programme for Māori and Pacific students providing topic specific tutorials, one-on-one sessions, test and exam preparation and more. Explore your options at

Special Requirements

The test is outside standard hours in the evening 6-8pm on campus.

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 35 hours of lectures, a 3 hour lab, 30 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 50 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is required at scheduled activities including labs to complete components of the course.
Lectures will be taught on campus and available as recordings. Other learning activities including labs will not be available as recordings.
The course will not include live online events.
The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

Learning 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.

Biogeography - Brown & Lomolino 

Main text above is optional as the main resources for the course are delivered to the students in terms of lecture pdfs and recordings and a wide range of additional readings in the form of journal articles.

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.

Reduce all response times

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.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.


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

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 course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

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 students may be asked to submit 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. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 31/10/2022 09:27 a.m.