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ECOL321 Ecology of Species Introductions and Invasions

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Develops understanding of ecosystem changes resulting from accidental or planned species introductions, natural invasions, species removals, and reintroductions.

The North and South Islands of New Zealand are the two most-invaded islands by exotic plants in the world, and introduced or self-invaded animals are also exceptionally common. Students will be introduced to national and international examples of invasion ecology, by way of demonstrating classical examples, exceptions, cutting-edge understanding of ecosystem functions, and will be exposed to the practicalities of management, control and potential removal of invasive species in an ecosystem context. Through invited guest lectures and field trips, students will benefit from real-life experience of people on the front line of invasion ecology, and will have the opportunity to build relationships with individuals and institutions that can help foster their future careers.

This new paper will complement the existing Ecology undergraduate papers, bringing together our aims of academic excellence and applied learning (teaching and learning through the process of doing research) in all Ecology papers, with opportunities for students to consider the practical and ethical aspects of work they are likely to be doing when employed as graduate-level ecologists. For non-ecologists, this paper will be a fascinating exploration of a topical issue.

Paper title Ecology of Species Introductions and Invasions
Paper code ECOL321
Subject Ecology
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 2 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,110.75
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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ECOL 211, and 54 200-level points from Science Schedule C
Schedule C

Teaching staff

Course Co-ordinator: Christoph Matthaei (Zoology)

Other Course Lecturers:
Jenny Jandt (Zoology)
Matt Larcombe (Botany)
Gerry Closs (Zoology)
Ceridwen Fraser (Marine Science)

Each year several guest lecturers will contribute to the course.

Paper Structure

ECOL 321 comprises 25 seminar classes (two 3-h sessions per week plus a Course Review session), including 2-4 short field trips. The specific content of each session will be decided by each of the five course lecturers. For example, a session may comprise:

  1. A one-hour lecture directly followed by a two-hour discussion/tutorial or short student talks related to the lecture material
  2. A guest lecture given by an invited expert in dealing with managing invasive species in NZ, e.g. from DoC, Orokonui Ecosanctuary or Fish & Game, followed by a workshop/discussion
  3. A three-hour field trip focusing on certain invasive species
Teaching Arrangements

The course will include 2-4 compulsory 3-h field trips within the timetabled periods.


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 who have successfully completed this paper will:

  • Understand the biological and ecological characteristics of introduced species that become successful invaders
  • Understand when and why ecosystems are at risk from invasive species
  • Understand when and how eradicating invasive species and ecosystem restoration may be feasible
  • Be able to predict how ecosystems might change in response to the removal of invasive species or the reintroduction of certain native species
  • Understand how to use ecological principles to manage invasive species
  • Gain experience in the use, application, and limitations of invasive species control
  • Understand how to use and adapt different ecological restoration techniques and methods
  • Develop skills in study design, critical thinking, reviewing scientific literature, working in small groups, and scientific communication (including oral communication and writing reports and critical reviews)

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Semester 2

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Monday 11:00-13:50 28-34, 36-41
Friday 11:00-13:50 28-34, 36-41