Curriculum & Course Descriptions


ES3302 Tropical Ecology

Date                                               :               10 December 2014
Academic Year                               :               2016/2017
Study Year (if applicable)              :              
Course code & Title                       :               ES3302 Tropical Ecology
Academic Unit                               :               3 AU
Pre-requisite                                 :               AAB20D Ecology
Course Description                        :
ES3302 Tropical Ecology
[Lectures: 39 hours; Tutorials: NA; Pre-requisites: AAB20D; Academic Unit: 3.0]
Learning Objective
This course aims to give the students a general understanding of tropical ecosystems, including the location and characteristics of tropical habitats, their climate and their biogeography. Throughout this course, students will learn the influence of climate in determining the distribution of organisms and the trophic structure of the ecosystems. Specific examples will include descriptions of the characteristics of tropical rain forests, mountains, deserts, grasslands, wetlands and mangroves, while highlighting the adaptations required by autochthonous organisms. By the end of this course, students will also gain a general knowledge of how tropical ecosystems affect human societies and how humans influence the structure and function of these ecosystems.
This class will make the students familiar with modern concepts in tropical ecology, conservation and management, with particular attention to its importance for human populations and the socio-cultural impacts of changing ecosystem services.
Course outline
Introduction to this course (outline, objective and requirement, evaluation and final examination)
1 hour
What and where are the tropics
2 hours
Tropical climates and biogeography (Part I)
3 hours
Tropical climates and biogeography (Part II)
3 hours
Tropical rain forest: structure and biodiversity (part I)
3 hours
Tropical rain forest: structure and biodiversity (part II)
3 hours
Tropical rain forest: deforestation; conservation and restoration
3 hours
Tropical mountains: zonation and gradients;
3 hours
Tropical grassland and savanna
3 hours
Tropical rivers and lakes
3 hours
Mangroves and tropical wetlands
3 hours
Tropical dry, hot deserts
3 hours
Refresher: determinants of tropical ecosystems characteristics
3 hours
Cities and human ecology; sustainable development
3 hours
Learning outcome
Students will learn the basic concepts of tropical ecosystems: location, characteristics (both biotic and abiotic), biogeochemical function, and survival strategies of organisms/communities. They will also understand the importance of climates, energy flow and biogeochemical cycling on evolution and dynamics in tropical ecosystems. Besides, they will get to know how human plays a part in and how to face the challenges and move toward a sustainable development.
Student assessment
Students will be assessed by:
  1. 5 fortnightly quiz, each fortnightly quiz is 15% (75%)
  2. End of course review (25%)
Each fortnightly quiz will be a multiple-choice set of questions on the topics covered in the previous 2 weeks of the course, the end of course review will be a multiple-choice set of questions on the topics covered in all classes in the course.
Text book
Patrick L. Osborne – Tropical Ecosystems and Ecological Concepts (2nd edition) – Cambridge university press
John Kricher – Tropical Ecology – Princeton university press, 2011