Faculty of Science

Monash University

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2013 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

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FacultyFaculty of Science
Organisational UnitSchool of Biological Sciences
OfferedClayton First semester 2013 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Dr Susie Ho


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;

  1. Describe the differences in the structure and function of different types of ecosystems;

  1. Identify and describe the fundamental drivers of patterns in diversity at local, landscape and global scale;

  1. Explain the main limitations on patterns of energy flow through natural food webs and ecosystems;

  1. Quantitatively describe patterns in populations and communities;

  1. 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)

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 units or one of ATS1301, ATS1309 or ATS1310.
For Bachelor of Environmental Engineering and associated double degree students only: ENE1621 Environmental engineering and BIO2040 Conservation biology will be required as either prerequisite or corequisite units.