Life Sciences

Tropical Rainforests: Biogeography and Conservation

Module code: F8013A
Level 6
15 credits in spring teaching
Teaching method: Lecture, Seminar
Assessment modes: Unseen examination, Coursework

The module aims to develop an understanding of tropical rainforest (trf) ecosystems and the consequences of their great antiquity, present rapid destruction and uncertain future. You will examine and evaluate the many hypotheses attempting to explain the astonishing species richness of trfs and explore their complex ecological organization. Sustainable use of trfs is contrasted with their ever-increasing destruction by peasant farmers, timber companies, cattle ranchers and other commercial interests. You will learn about the impact of trf destruction on world climates, global biodiversity, and natural resources. Future prospects for conservation and management are assessed, including less damaging methods of timber harvesting, ecotourism, the potential of a new 'carbon market' (REDD++) and the role and contribution of scientist and international conservation organisations. The coursework and seminar series associated with the module will introduce skills of practical use to you if you decide to follow a career within conservation - the main focus being the development of an original grant proposal to the Royal Geographical Society.

Module learning outcomes

  • Exhibit the ability to evaluate complex hypotheses concerning the generation of biodiversity and describe the complex interactions between flora and fauna of tropical rainforests in a written format with references to primary literature.
  • Evaluate and synthesize the primary literature to describe the environmental history of the three major forest blocks in an essay format with reference to primary literature.
  • Critically evaluate the primary literature to identify an important research question.
  • Construct and design a grant proposal for funding.