Introduction to Ecology

Course CodeBEN101
Fee CodeS1
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment
Study the Fundamentals of Ecology
Learn how soil, climate, plants and animals impact on each other to result in a stable (or semi stable) ecosystem.  

Lesson Structure

There are 7 lessons in this course:

  1. Ecosystems and Populations
    • Ecology
    • Types of Ecology: Behavioural Ecology, Population Ecology, Community Ecology and Ecosystem Ecology
    • Biomes
    • Ecosystems (Energy and Nutrients)
    • The Food Web: Grazing Web, Detrital Web, Energy Flow and Imbalances
    • Populations: Diversity, Habitat, Niche, and Growth Rates
    • Interactions in the Community: Competition, Predation, Co-evolution, Succession and Climax Communities
  2. The Development of Life
    • Lifespan: Average Lifespan, Evolutionary Considerations on Lifespan and Theories on the Limits of Lifespan
    • Evolution: Introduction, What Evolution Means, Evidence of Organic Evolution, The Anatomical Argument, The Physiological Argument, The Paleontological Argument, The Embryological Argument, Steps in Organic Evolution, Multicellular Organisms, The Evolution of Sex, Differentiation and Integration
    • The origin of Vertebrates: The Emergence of Man, Factors in Organic Evolution, Germ Cells and Variations, Natural Selection, Population Genetics, The Synthetic Theory, Speciation, Genetic Drift, Trans-specific Evolution, Present Day Evolutionary Debate, Human Evolution and Evolutionary Patterns
    • Animals, Parasites and Endangered Species
    • Animals in the Ecosystem: Animals in the Human Community
  3. Animals
    • Phylum and Classes of the Animal Kingdom: Vertebrates with Backbones, Vertebrates without Backbones, Protozoa, Origins and Relationships, Body Organisation, The Gut, Symmetry, Protosomia, Coelom and Deuterostomia
    • Summary of Phyla: The Parazoa, The Mesozoa, The Radiata, Phylum Coelenterata and Phylum Ctenophora
    • The Acoelomate Bilateria: Phylum Platyhelminthes, Phylum Nemertina
    • The Pseudocoelomates: Phylum Nematoda, Phylum Gastrotricha, Phylum Nematomorpha, Phylum Acanthocephala, Phylum Kinorhyncha, Phylum Rotifera, Phylum Priapulida, Phylum Entoprocta and Phylum Lucifera
    • Eucoelomates (The Tentaculata): Phylum Phoronida, Phylum Ectoprocta and Phylum Brachiopoda
    • Eucoelomates (The Trochozoa): Phylum Annelida, Phylum Sipuncula, Phylum Mollusca, Phylum Arthropoda
    • Eucoelomates (The Deuterostomia): Phylum Chaetognatha, Phylum Echinodermata, Phylum Hemichordata and Phylum Chordata
    • Parasites: Human Parasites and Parasitic Plants
    • Endangered Species: The Causes of Extinction and Efforts for Preservation
    • Case Study (Threatened Animal Species in Queensland, Australia): Birds, Mammals, Fish, Frogs, Butterflies and Reptiles
  4. Fungi, Tundra, Rainforests and Marshlands
    • Fungi: Introduction, Types of Fungi, The Structure of Fungi, The Reproduction of Fungi, The Physiology of Fungus, Poisoning by Fungi, The Ecology of Fungus, The Uses of Fungi, The Classification of Fungi (Oomycota, Zygomycota, Ascomycota)
    • Tundra: Introduction, The Climate and Land Formation, Plant Life on the Tundra
    • Rainforests: The Ecology, The Vegetation, Creatures of the Rainforest, The Canopy, The Under-storey, The Forest Floor and Clearing the Rainforest
    • Marshland: Introduction, Freshwater Marshes and Saltwater Marshes
  5. Mountains, Rivers and Deserts
    • Mountains: The Formation of Mountains, The Importance of Mountains, Volcanoes and Erosion
    • Rivers: The Formation of Rivers, Dams (Ponds), River Catchments, Urban Catchments, How can we clean up Stormwater
    • Reducing Pollutants
    • Sedimentation
    • Nutrients
    • Other Toxicants
    • Damming of Rivers
    • Deserts: Wind Systems, Land Formation, Plant Adaptations to the Desert, Animal Adaptations to the Desert, Human Impacts on Deserts, The Spreading Deserts
  6. Shallow Waters
    • Estuaries
    • Major Natural Processes Occurring in Coastal Environments: Climatological, Physical, Biological and Mixing Processes; Factors Influencing Estuaries; The Estuary as a Nursery; Estuaries and People
    • Rocky Shores: Threats to Rocky Shores and What Individuals Can Do
    • Sandy Shores: Threats to the Sandy Shore
    • Coral Reefs: Corals, The Composition of Coral Reefs
    • Types of Coral Reefs: Fringing Reefs, Barrier Reefs and Atolls
    • The Origin of Coral Reefs: Flora and Fauna on Atolls; Petroleum
  7. Ecological Problems
    • The Greenhouse Effect
    • Global Warming: Difference Between Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming, Climate Change, A Growing Awareness, Carbon Dioxide
    • International Efforts to Combat Climate Change: IPCC, UNFCCC, Kyoto Protocol, COP15 and The World Watch Institute
    • The Actual and Potential Effects: Global Temperature Rise, Sea Level Rise, Impacts on Weather Systems
    • Greenhouse Gases (GHG): Water Vapour, Methane, Nitrous Oxide and Fluorocarbons
    • Ozone: The Ozone Layer, The Causes of Ozone Depletion, Aerosols, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, Foam and Phasing out CFCs
    • The Effects of Ozone Depletion: Skin Cancers, Immune System Response, Impacts on Crops and Forests and Impacts on Marine Life
    • Poisons: Poisons in the Home and Other Household Poisons
    • Poisons on the Farm: Pesticides, Characteristics of Pesticides and Summary of Pesticides
    • Environmental and Health Impacts of Pesticides: Soil, Water Air Vegetation, Wildlife, Effects of Chemicals on Humans and Animals, Acute Poisoning, Chronic Poisoning and Different Types of Effects
    • Waste Material: Rubbish Dumps or Tips, Recycling, Plastics, Gas from Landfills and Domestic Waste

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

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