Faculty of Science

Monash University

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2015 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

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

FacultyFaculty of Science
Organisational UnitSchool of Biological Sciences
OfferedClayton Second semester 2015 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Professor Paul Sunnucks


This unit will investigate what's hot in the science of ecology and how we got there by following the history of ecological ideas and the people behind them through to the big questions that remain unanswered in ecology today. The ecological dimensions of space and time will be a common theme running through the unit as we explore the ecology of fitness, interaction networks and the four 'M's - metacommunity ecology, metasystems, metabolic ecology and macroecology. Underpinning all of this will be the recognition of the interplay between ecology and evolution that is blurring the distinction between the two disciplines. Each topic and its core concepts will be covered in lectures and the relevance of these topics to the changing world and to conservation will be discussed. Material presented in lectures will be supported by practical and tutorial sessions. Together we will read and interpret 'hot off the press' ecology research papers, debate controversial topics in the field, delve into live data and design experiments to answer unsolved problems.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Explain and describe current topics in ecology and their core concepts;
  2. Discuss the development of ecological ideas and current questions in the field;
  3. Gather, analyse, interpret and discuss primary data and research publications in the topics covered;
  4. Design experiments and develop hypotheses to test contextually-relevant research questions;
  5. Present and debate unanswered questions and controversial ideas in the field;
  6. Work effectively in individual and peer or team contexts.


Final examination: 50%
Continuous assessment: 50%
Note that the continuous assessment will include onine quizzes, analysis of data, design of experiments, presentations and structured debates during tutorial sessions, as well as the evaluation and discussion of publications during tutorials.

Workload requirements

Two 1-hour lectures and one 3-hour practical or tutorial per week

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

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


BIO2011 and BIO2022, or by permission from the unit coordinator