Faculty of Science

Monash University

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2014 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.

print version

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

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

FacultyFaculty of Science
Organisational UnitSchool of Biological Sciences
OfferedClayton Second semester 2014 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Dr Paul Sunnucks


This unit introduces students to different kinds of genetic variation and the ways in which they are, and are not, important in fitness of individual organisms and viability of populations. A major distinction is made between functional genetic variation as opposed to the non-functional genetic variation typically used as a source of DNA-based tools to study the biology of organisms and their populations. After exploring these concepts, the unit expands on the control and inheritance of traits that have major influences in the lives of organisms. There follows an investigation of how ecological and conservation genetics is applied to real-world research and biological management, in a coherent progression from fine scale 'wildlife forensics', relatedness, parentage, through 'landscape genetics' to phylogeography and phylogenetics. Recent revolutions in these fields are outlined. The concepts are illustrated by exploration of exciting examples encompassing pure and applied science, including urban ecology, invasion and conservation biology, global change ecology, and associated practical work. We explore the relationship between genetic variation and extinction risk of populations and species. Finally, we investigate how genetic variation in organisms is associated with ecosystem function, ecological community structure and protection against environmental change.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Explain the principles underlying interactions between the genotypes of organisms and their environment;

  1. Understand the application of those principles to ecology and conservation management and thus comprehend the roles of the field in society;

  1. Apply practical and analytical skills in ecological, evolutionary and conservation genetics involved in the conduct of ecology and conservation;

  1. Apply principles of experimental and survey design, data collection, analysis and interpretation, in the field of ecological and conservation genetics;

  1. Synthesize and communicate, in oral and/or written formats, scientific principles and information underlying ecological and conservation genetics.


Practical assignments: 30%
Mini-quizzes: 20%
Final examination: 50%

Chief examiner(s)

Workload requirements

Two hours of lectures and three hours of practical, per week

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study


12 credit points of level one biology