ENVSCI 737 : Applied Terrestrial Ecology


2020 Semester One (1203) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

The dynamics of change in terrestrial ecosystems with a focus on forest and wetland environments. The effects of factors such as climate change and fire in New Zealand's terrestrial ecosystems will be considered. Students will be introduced to modern methods for vegetation assessment and monitoring, including multivariate statistical methods. Students are required to participate in a residential field course as this is a major component of ENVSCI 737. No formal prerequisite but a knowledge of ecology equivalent to BIOSCI 394 or BIOSCI 396 and data analysis equivalent to GEOG 250 or BIOSCI 209 is assumed.

Course Overview

This course focuses on developing an understanding in/of vegetation dynamics in forest and wetland ecosystems, with an emphasis on the potential and realised effects of fire, climate change and invasive species in New Zealand. These issues will be placed into the wider context of the ongoing debate about the nature of the ecological community and the role of disturbance in structuring ecological systems. The course also considers methods for collecting the data required to describe the composition, structure and function of vegetation communities and some of the quantitative tools used to analyse such data. The course is organised around a one week residential field-trip.

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

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

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Describe the main processes underpinning vegetation dynamics in New Zealand's forest and wetlands systems in New Zealand, and the fundamental and applied importance of these issues (Capability 1 and 2)
  2. Apply some of the field methods used to collect data for the description and characterisation of vegetation communities and ecosystem functions (Capability 1 and 3)
  3. Show an understanding of and apply some of the quantitative methods used to analyse vegetation data (Capability 1 and 3)
  4. Understand the long-term context of ecological change in NZ including human-environment interactions (Capability 1 and 6)
  5. Develop scientific writing skills (Capability 4 and 5)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Field-report 1 30% Individual Coursework
Field-report 2 50% Individual Coursework
MInd map (literature overview) 20% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5
Field-report 1
Field-report 2
MInd map (literature overview)


As part of the University-wide Tuākana community, The School of Environment Tuākana Programme aims to provide a welcoming learning environment for, and enhance the success of, all of our Māori and Pacific students. We are led by the principles of tautoko (support) and whanaungatanga (connection), and hope you find a home here at the School. Students who have identified as Māori and/or Pacific will receive an invitation to our online portal introducing the Programme, the resources we have available, and how you can get involved.

This course is supported by our Programme Coordinator, Kaiāwhina/Māori student adviser, and Pacific student adviser. They are able to organise group study and facilitate direct assistance regarding material taught in this course. For more information regarding the Programme feel free to email our Programme Coordinator: riki.taylor@auckland.ac.nz.

Learning Resources

Special Requirements

A residential field-trip on Aotea-Great Barrier Island is a fundamental component of  ENVSCI 737.  This will involve field0work in forest and wetland environments.  Please contact the course coordiantor with any questions about this component of the course.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard [X] 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 [X] hours of lectures, a [X] hour tutorial, [X] hours of reading and thinking about the content and [X] hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation.

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 http://disability.auckland.ac.nz

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: https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/students/academic-information/exams-and-final-results/during-exams/aegrotat-and-compassionate-consideration.html.

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 (https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/students/forms-policies-and-guidelines/student-policies-and-guidelines/student-charter.html).


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 11/01/2020 02:59 p.m.