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Unit (2019)

Information on this page, including unit offerings, is from the 2019 academic year.

Wildlife Biology (BIO376)

Organisational Unit Environmental and Conservation Sciences
Credit Points 3
Availability MURDOCH: S2-internal
Teaching Timetables Murdoch S2
Description Effective conservation and management of wildlife needs to be informed by scientifically-rigorous wildlife research. This unit develops the knowledge and skills biologists need to study natural populations of terrestrial vertebrate wildlife. Students will be immersed in real wildlife research projects using case studies, and through practical experience of studying wildlife in the field. Topics include: Australian vertebrates - the taxa; wildlife and habitat; research design; methods for detecting and studying animal populations; estimating abundance; use of population and ecological data.
Unit Learning Outcomes 1. outline the major taxonomic groups of the Australian, terrestrial vertebrates (birds, herpetofauna and mammals), describe their defining characteristics, discuss the diversity within them in regards to their biology and natural history, and highlight issues of conservation and management;
2. describe the techniques available for detecting, sampling, estimating abundance and quantifying the habitat of terrestrial vertebrate animal populations, and demonstrate knowledge of the theory behind those approaches, when they can be applied, and the data they can and cannot generate;
3. apply the principles of research design to develop scientifically rigorous investigations in wildlife biology, that address particular research questions and problems in conservation and management;
4. demonstrate practical skills in the detection and sampling of wildlife in the field, using both non-invasive and invasive methods, and implement those methods using best-scientific and best-ethical practice;
5. apply models of abundance estimation to datasets as appropriate to the sampling regime and assumptions of the model and carry out key calculations to estimate wildlife population vital rates including abundance, density, survival, reproduction, and population structure;
6. demonstrate an understanding of the key steps in an adaptive management approach to wildlife research.
7. manage and manipulate biological data in software packages to facilitate investigation and apply statistical analyses to wildlife data; and
8. interpret and present findings in a scientific manner and discuss the implications of research findings for conservation and management.
Timetabled Learning Activities Workshops/Lectures: 1-2 hours per week; Practicals: 4 hours per week (not in all weeks). Field Project: 3 days during non-teaching break 1 or 2.
Unit Learning Experiences The approach to learning in this unit is to combine knowledge on the theory and practice of wildlife research, with practical, hands-on experience in the field. It is designed to build on previous learning in units such as ENV241 Ecology and BIO375 Conservation Biology and to further develop knowledge and skills in conducting scientifically-rigorous wildlife research. The theory component of the unit comprises knowledge of the Australian vertebrate taxa themselves, as well as the theory behind, and application of, the methods/approaches for studying them. This is covered through structured, but self-paced out-of-class learning, using readings and detailed topic notes, combined with in-class workshops with the lecturers, to reinforce and explore concepts. Practical skills in the methods of wildlife research are developed within the practical classes using a mix of laboratory, field and computer-based activities where students apply and further develop skills in identifying animals, detecting and surveying animals in an ethically- and scientifically-correct manner, managing the data and carrying out key data analyses. Finally, students undertake the research process themselves; an intensive, field-based research project requires application of the skills learnt, both in terms of field work, and in analysing, interpreting and presenting data.

Other Learning Experiences A field project offers intensive hands-on experience in the study of the biology/ecology of fauna in their natural habitat.
Assessment Research and communication skills developed previously in the degree are further developed and solidified. Assignment items build in complexity in a step-wise way throughout semester. Feedback is provided on research and writing skills, and the ability to analyse, interpret and present data within strict guidelines. This culminates in a final major report, with the opportunity to use previous feedback to demonstrate ability and initiative in analysing, interpreting and communicating data. The practical mark provides assessment of practical skills and field work. The exam is used to demonstrate knowledge of the wildlife taxa, methods and application of research design and key calculations of population vital rates.
Prerequisites BIO368 Conservation Biology or BIO375 Conservation Biology
Exclusions Students who have successfully completed BIO317 Wildlife Biology may not enrol in this unit for credit.
Appears in these Courses/Majors:
see individual structures for context
Biology and Environmental Science Major Teaching Area (BEd(Sec)) [New in 2019]
Conservation and Wildlife Biology (BSc) [New in 2014]
Appears in these Minors Wildlife Conservation
Internet Access RequirementsMurdoch units normally include an online component comprising materials, discussions, lecture recordings and assessment activities. All students, regardless of their location or mode of study, need to have access to and be able to use computing devices with browsing capability and a connection to the Internet via Broadband (Cable, ADSL or Mobile) or Wireless. The Internet connection should be readily available and allow large amounts of data to be streamed or downloaded (approximately 100MB per lecture recording). Students also need to be able to enter into online discussions and submit assignments online.


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