BIO3820 - Tropical terrestrial biology - 2017

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

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



Organisational Unit

Malaysia School of Science


Associate Professor Richard Reina (Clayton)

Dr Ryan Wasserman (Malaysia)

Quota applies

Due to Field Course logistics this unit has a quota of 30 Clayton students and 30 Malaysia students and enrolment is on a first-in basis. After the quota has been reached, Clayton students may request a place on the waiting list by contacting the Science Student Services office (, while Malaysia students should contact the Course Management Office in the School of Science.

Unit guides



  • Second semester 2017 (Day)


  • Second semester 2017 (Day)


This unit covers all major aspects of tropical ecology, explaining why the world's tropics are so rich and diverse in species, what factors contribute to this richness and how the interactions between plants and animals result in such complex relationships. We discuss biodiversity in the tropics, the variety of tropical ecosystems such as rainforests, savannahs, dry forests, montane tropics and peat swamps. The importance of climate, nutrient cycling, disturbance, and forest dynamics on the ecology of tropical plants and animals is a major theme. Conservation and management issues such as conflicting land-use requirements, logging and fire are also investigated in the unit.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the diversity, structure and function of a range of tropical ecosystems;
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of conservation and management issues relating to tropical ecosystems;
  3. Demonstrate and understand the importance of climate, nutrient cycling, disturbance and forest dynamics, on the ecology of tropical plants and animals;
  4. Design, analyse and undertake sampling programs to examine the flora and fauna of tropical habitats;
  5. Demonstrate advanced scientific report writing skills;
  6. Make effective oral and visual presentations;
  7. Work collaboratively and effectively in teams.


Essay: 20%

Mid-semester exam: 20%

Field trip project: 30%

Examination (2 hours): 30%

Workload requirements

Two 1-hour lectures and one 1-hour tutorial per week (or equivalent), plus one 5-day field trip (or equivalent)

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

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


One of BIO2011, BIO2810 or STA2216, plus six points of ENV or level two BIO