Course Description

Course Name

Ecosystem Ecology

Session: VCPF3121

Hours & Credits

36 Host University Units

Prerequisites & Language Level

Course entry requirements: BIO2010F

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.


Course outline:
This course focuses on terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems, especially of Africa. Lectures take place mainly on a field camp where there is ample opportunity for practicals and individual projects. Typical practicals concern the distribution and impact of small mammals and large herbivores, succession between fynbos and forest, the role of soil water on ecosystem attributes and freshwater vlei and river dynamics. The course begins with an introduction to ecosystem ecology and the role of abiotic factors (such as nutrients, fire and water) and biotic factors (such as predation). The issue of scale, both spatial (from metres to kilometres) and temporal (for days to millennia) is considered as is the issue of scaling and scaling-up in ecosystem ecology. Trophic ecology, the causes and consequences of the elimination of predators is discussed, with examples from Africa. Besides developing field work skills in ecosystem ecology, students will also develop modelling skills including simple demographic and succession models. Finally, the dynamics, management and conservation of Africa's terrestrial and freshwater resources are studied.

*Course content subject to change