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Monash University

Monash University Handbook 2011 Undergraduate - Unit

6 points, SCA Band 0 (NATIONAL PRIORITY), 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.

FacultyFaculty of Science
OfferedClayton First semester 2011 (Day)
Sunway First semester 2011 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Dr Jill Lancaster (Clayton); Dr Catherine Yule (Sunway)


This unit is an introduction to ecology; the scientific study of the interactions between organisms and their environment. Ecology and biodiversity forms the foundation for understanding conservation and the management of genetics, species and ecosystem diversity. The approach taken is to address core ecological theory, but with an emphasis on contemporary management issues and applications. Topics include the scope and approaches of ecological enquiry; abiotic and biotic factors determining distributions; population growth and regulation; species interactions; patterns and maintenance of biodiversity; food web analysis; disturbance and succession; and production ecology and nutrient cycling. Particular emphasis is placed on integrating ecological processes across spatial and temporal scales. Practical work can be completed through team-based projects conducted during a pre-semester field camp, or on two day field excursions (Clayton: weekends, Sunway: Friday to Sunday) during the semester, together with in-laboratory practical sessions.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Describe the modern scope of scientific inquiry in the field of ecology.
  2. Describe the differences in the structure and function of different types of ecosystems.
  3. Identify and describe the fundamental drivers of patterns in diversity at local, landscape and global scales.
  4. Explain the main limitations on patterns of energy flow through natural food webs and ecosystems.
  5. Quantitatively describe patterns in populations and communities.
  6. Apply basic ecological sampling techniques in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and be proficient in summarising and reporting that data in the format of a scientific paper.


Theory examination (2 hours): 45%
Continuous assessment (quizzes): 10%
Practical assessment (two 1500 word project reports): 30%
Population ecology exercise: 15%

Chief examiner(s)

Dr Jill Lancaster

Contact hours

Two 1-hour lectures and one 3-hour practical or equivalent


24 points of level one units, which includes 6 points from BIO or GES units or one of ATS1301, ATS1309 or ATS1310.
For Bachelor of Environmental Engineering students only: ENE1621 (Environmental engineering) will be required as either a prerequisite or a corequisite unit. Also, BIO2040 is a pre-requisite unit together with 24 points of level one units instead of the rule outlined above.