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ECOL313 Ecology Field Course

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The techniques of field ecology; sampling strategies, design, procedures and equipment; an initiation to ecological research.

The underlying philosophy of the Ecology Programme is that students learn through the practice of doing research. ECOL 313 is the signature course of the Programme in which students are able to design and undertake a substantial scientific project of their own, in collaboration with academic staff. Examples of recent student projects include such diverse topics as: How do sandhoppers orient themselves on the beach? How many epiphytes do tree ferns support? How do stream flow and sedimentation affect macroinvertebrates? And how do introduced species affect dune plant and invertebrate communities?

Paper title Ecology Field Course
Paper code ECOL313
Subject Ecology
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period 1st Non standard period (8 February 2021 - 23 June 2021) (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,092.15
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $5,004.75

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ECOL 211 and ECOL 212 and (STAT 110 or STAT 115)
Schedule C
(i) This course is intended for third year students majoring in Ecology. However, other students may be admitted at the discretion of the Programme Co-ordinator. (ii) A compulsory field trip will be held prior to the beginning of the semester 8 – 14 February 2021.
Enrolments for this paper require departmental permission. View more information about departmental permission.
Teaching staff

Co-ordinator: Travis Ingram

Paper Structure

ECOL 313 involves a 7-day live-in field camp where students undertake an independent ecological research project under the guidance of academic staff. Projects can cover a wide range of topics from marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments. Students work in pairs in developing their ideas in collaboration with staff, formulating a research question, and designing and conducting the study over a period of 4-5 days during the camp. After returning to the Dunedin campus, students then work on their research project individually, with tutorials focused on statistical analysis and on communication skills, then present their research in oral and written formats.

Teaching Arrangements

A compulsory field trip will be held prior to the beginning of the semester between 8 -14 February, 2021.


Textbooks are not required for this paper.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Environmental literacy, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Students will gain experience with the scientific process by carrying out all steps of an independent research project. Students will:
  • Research and design a study
  • Work in pairs to execute the study during a week-long field camp to the Catlins region of South Island, New Zealand in February
  • Analyse their data
  • Present the results in oral and written reports
In addition to specific skills they will use in project work, students will develop skills in:
  • Experimental design
  • Quantitative analyses
  • Teamwork
  • Critical thinking
  • Scientific communication (in both written and oral format)

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1st Non standard period (8 February 2021 - 23 June 2021)

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system