Statistics & Research Design
In this unit we will address problems and solutions associated with the analysis of ‘real’ ecological and behavioural data sets. We will use a problem-based approach, centred on a large data set, to investigate methods of data manipulation and transformation, exploratory analyses (numerical and graphical) and hypothesis testing. Lectures will deliver background information, relating to experimental design, hypothesis testing, exploratory data analysis and statistical model building. Practical computer-based exercises will support topics covered in lectures and used to demonstrate data handling and analytical techniques.
Masters Project in Conservation and Behaviour
This unit allows you to undertake a novel research project appropriate to your programme of study and to practise the skills of research design, analysis, and scientific communication. You will be allocated an appropriate project supervisor. At the beginning of the course we will provide an extensive list of projects in the field, laboratory and in the UK and overseas. If you have your own project idea, we can help you develop it. Projects undertaken at a distance will normally be preceded by an intensive period of preparation and planning with the supervisor.
The unit provides you the practical experience and techniques essential for your chosen field. Animal Behaviour and Zoo Conservation Biology students can choose between a work placement (at least two months) and a residential field course within Europe or the tropics. A field course will normally be compulsory for students on all other MSc courses and the content will be appropriate to their particular MSc programme.
This unit will introduce students to applied ecological techniques and behavioural data collection. Students will design and deliver a research project during a residential or non-residential Field Course.
This unit will address the evolutionary and ecological background to species conservation and critically evaluate the role of natural and anthropogenic factors in promoting extinction. The ways in which species are selected for conservation action will be addressed and the reasons for success or failure in conservation programmes evaluated. A number of animal groups and habitats will be selected for case studies.
Topics in Conservation and Sustainability
The unit will examine biological theory and environmental policy underlying the sustainable use of resources to maintain their productive capacity and protective function. Example topics covered include: harvesting; soil management; tourism; genetic modification; tragedy of the commons.
Topics in Organismal Genetics
Within the context of modern population genetics, this unit will introduce the application of molecular genetics tools to a range of problems in conversation biology and evolution. Equal emphasis will be placed on background theory, data handling and generation and surveying modern applied generics through case studies and primary literature.
Likely Optional Units
Avian Biology and Conservation
This unit deals with the evolution, biology, and biogeography of birds and how evidence from these different research themes is utilised for avian conservation management. The unit will involve: an introduction to avian taxonomy and phylogeny; examination of the evolution of avian communication and life-history strategies; an introduction to avian biogeography and possible impacts of climate change and habitat modification; quantifying anthropogenic threats and avian extinction risk; human-avian population conflicts; and exploring possible solutions for applied avian conservation management such as habitat restoration schemes, agri-environment schemes and ecosystem services.
This unit provides an overview of the contemporary study of animal behaviour and applied animal behaviour, together with detailed case studies. The unit prepares you for further study or employment in animal behaviour and related fields by providing experience of research design and scientific communication. The unit is underpinned by evolutionary thinking and the four levels of analysis Niko Tinbergen put forward for the study of Animal Behaviour, namely development (learning), mechanism (neurological and hormonal underpinnings), function (how does it help an individual survive and reproduce?) and evolution (how did it evolve?).
This unit focuses on conservation actions that aim to reverse declines in threatened species. These include reintroductions of endangered or extinction species, ex-situ conservation breeding, post-release monitoring, habitat manipulation and biological control, and research underpinning knowledge of the causes decline and recovery priorities. The unit will draw on case studies from the tropics, and from species recovery efforts for UK and European plants and animals.
Monitoring Habitat and Species Responses to Environmental Change
Environmental change exerts constant pressure on our ecosystems. Drivers such as climate change and atmospheric pollution shift species gradients, alter plant community composition and wildlife populations, and affect the integrity of some of our most valuable semi-natural habitats.
In this unit, we explore the methods used by conservation agencies to monitor ecosystem responses to long-term environmental change and consider how we quantify the effectiveness of site management in mitigating change. We will examine weather, air & soil chemistry, plant & soil communities, birds & butterfly populations that are regularly surveyed, to understand the nature of environmental change and the techniques used to monitor responses to change including field survey and remote sensing methods.
Earth Observation and GIS
This unit provides students with an introduction to the principles of Earth Observation and explores its role in data gathering (including recent sensor developments) and information extraction for GIS applications.