Short Title:Ecology & Biodiversity
Full Title:Ecology & Biodiversity
Module Code:HTSC H2028
ECTS credits: 5
NFQ Level:6
Module Delivered in 2 programme(s)
Module Contributor:Ciarnad Ryan
Module Description:This module introduces the horticulture student to the principles of ecology, that is, how animal and plant species live and the interactions between species and their habitats, followed by an analysis of how human activity, both historical and modern, has affected the physical and habitat geography of Ireland and continues to shape it. The student will also learn about biodiversity, which describes the variety of life, encompassing all living organisms and includes variations within ecosystems and species. The course will focus on the environmental issues relevant to the Irish landscape, including the impact of economic development on habitats and biodiversity indices. Information on relevant legislative measures for the protection of habitats, details of the National Biodiversity Plan and the concept of Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) will be included. The course will show examples of horticultural activity and their impacts on biodiversity and the wider environmental outcomes of intensive horticulture. Finally a review is presented of the evidence for and current theories surrrounding climate change on the Irish landscape.
Learning Outcomes:
On successful completion of this module the learner will be able to
  1. Have a working knowledge of the principles of ecology, biodiversity and its relevance to environmental sustainability.
  2. Be informed of the universal debate on climate change and its relevance to the impact of Irish conservation measures, including reduction of our carbon footprint
  3. Survey and analyse a range of habitats for their ecological value and determine a biodiversity index
  4. Know measures adopted by the Irish Government at National and Local level for environmental protection, including the National Biodiversity Plan
  5. Explain the role played by the carbon, nitrogen and other cycles in ecology and the effects of their disruption
  6. Have a knowledge of Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) in Ireland, the reasons why they are so designated and the implication for local authority development plans

Module Content & Assessment

Indicative Content
Populations and Species Interaction
Identification of a range of ecological habitats and the associated species. Factors controlling population size, including resources and conditions. Competition between and within species. Dispersion and dormancy and their effect on populations. Description of population size. Populations within ecologies. Predation, herbivory, parasitism and other interactions between population groups.
Ecological communities; the composition of communities, species diversity and richness, including mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, insects, plants, lichens, mosses, algae, fungi. The disturbance of communities and their reaction. The meaning of succession. Energy Pathways and Food webs. Autotrophs and heterotrophs. The flow of energy in food chains. Nutrient and biogeochemical cycles. The carbon, phosphorous and nitrogen cycles. The influence of population interactions on community structure. The disturbance of these cycles by human activity. The definition of biodiversity and methods of assessing indices. Human impact on species diversity; examples from history and current issues. Special Areas of Conservation, Biodiversity Plans (National & Local).
Irish Wetlands
The range of Irish wetlands from coastal area, to inland lakes, streams, canals, fens, bogs and marshes. The nature of water resources in Ireland, including the characterisation of climate and precipitation levels, interaction with geology and surface cover. Water quality and oxygen status. Nutrient enrichment and eutrophication, nitrates and phosphates. Biotic indices of water quality. Possible sources of contamination in Irish rivers and lakes and ground water. The effects on ecological systems and biodiversity.
Settlement in Ireland
Geological description of the Irish Landscape. Description and chronology of the major periods in Irish prehistory and the archaeological record as it is known. The formation of blanket and raised bogs. The process of settlement of Ireland, and its effect on the Irish landscape, in particular the effect of forestry and forest clearance, farming and urbanisation, on species diversity and the ecology of Ireland as an island and impacts on native forests and woodlands as well as hedgerow conservation.
Climate Change
Climate change in geological and in historical time. The history of the scientific debate on global warming. An analysis of the evidence for global warming, including a review of the complexity of physical systems that may be involved. The major expected effects of global warming on climate in Ireland, including species and habitat loss and change due to changes in temperature and precipitation levels. The potential effects of higher carbon dioxide levels on plant growth. Potential impacts on water resources in Ireland and internationally and the effects on ecology. The effects of climate change on global biodiversity.
Practical Applications of Ecology
Documenting ecosystem diversity and habitats, including plant identification, floral composition and significant features of the habitat. Potential responses to ecosystem or habitat change or damage. The role of horticulture in attempts at repair to plant communities. Loss of biodiversity in Ireland, Europe and globally. Possible responses to climate change in Ireland and globally.
Indicative Assessment Breakdown%
Course Work Assessment %30.00%
Final Exam Assessment %70.00%
Course Work Assessment %
Assessment Type Assessment Description Outcome addressed % of total Assessment Date
Lab Workbook Field Studies Notebook, detailed notes of activities, surveys, field trips and experiments. 1,3 20.00 Sem 2 End
Presentation Group Presentation 4,6 10.00 Week 24
No Final Exam Assessment %
Indicative Reassessment Requirement
Repeat examination
Reassessment of this module will consist of a repeat examination. It is possible that there will also be a requirement to be reassessed in a coursework element.

ITB reserves the right to alter the nature and timings of assessment


Indicative Module Workload & Resources

Recommended Book Resources
  • Michael Begon, Colin R. Townsend, John L. Harper, Ecology: From Individuals to Ecosystems, Blackwell Publishing, Incorporated [ISBN: 1405111178]
  • edited by T. A. Watt and G. P. Buckley 1994, Hedgerow management and nature conservation, Wye College Press Wye, Ashford, Kent [ISBN: 0862660378]
  • Edward O. Wilson 2001, The diversity of life, Penguin London [ISBN: 014029161X]
  • Mike J. Jeffries, Biodiversity and conservation, London ; Routledge, 1997. [ISBN: 0415149053]
This module does not have any article/paper resources
Other Resources

Module Delivered in

Programme Code Programme Semester Delivery
BN_SHTSC_8 Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Horticulture [240 ECTS credits] 3 Mandatory
BN_SHTSC_7 Bachelor of Science in Horticulture [180 ECTS credits] 3 Mandatory