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Unit of study_

BIOL3004: Terrestrial Plant Ecosystem Management

Australian native vegetation is a unique resource for diversity, ecosystem services and public use. The objective of this unit is to provide a broad understanding of three major plant terrestrial ecosystems that are found across Australia: forests, heathlands and grasslands and how they are managed. While the focus will be on native plant systems in an Australian setting, their importance at a global level will also be discussed. You will develop an understanding of the characteristics of key plant ecosystems, including where they are found and their main ecophysiology features. Each of the ecosystems described has the potential to be affected (positively or negatively) by a range of natural and anthropogenic disturbances. They include fire, climate change (drought and temperature), changes in nutrient flows and more broadly human-induced disturbances such as logging, mining, urban development and agricultural management. The impact of these disturbances along with mitigation via conservation and associated management changes will also be covered. Finally, government policy around conservation/management of these ecosystems will be examined. At the completion of this unit you will have developed an understanding of the environmental and economic importance of forests, heathlands and grasslands, their vulnerability to a range of external factors and the extent that these can be mitigated.

Code BIOL3004
Academic unit Life and Environmental Sciences Academic Operations
Credit points 6
6cp of BIOL2X23 or BIOL2X30 or AGEN2001 or GEOS2X21 or AGEN2005 or BIOL2X09
ENSY3003 or ENSY3002
Assumed knowledge:
Students should have a basic understanding of plant biology, plant ecology and/or plant physiology. Some background knowledge in mathematics and chemistry would be beneficial

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. Demonstrate sound knowledge of three major vegetation types in Australia – forests, heathlands and grasslands
  • LO2. Compare and contrast the features of forests, heathlands and grasslands with similar vegetation types worldwide
  • LO3. Describe the key differences among forests, heathlands and grasslands and identify the role these differences play in ecosystem functioning
  • LO4. Explain the concept of ecosystem fluxes and how they can be quantified at a range of scales
  • LO5. Measure and analyse environmental variables and integrate these measures to describe ecosystem functioning
  • LO6. Examine the interaction of fire with vegetation, soil and humans
  • LO7. Discuss the implications of climate change on functioning of forest, heathlands and grasslands
  • LO8. Communicate the importance of nutrient balances on productivity and plant diversity in Australian ecosystems
  • LO9. Review the range of ways that humans interact both positively and negatively with forests, heathlands and grasslands
  • LO10. Evaluate the long- and short-term effects of heat and drought on vegetation
  • LO11. Plan management responses for a given vegetation type subjected to one or more natural and human-induced disturbances
  • LO12. Combine knowledge of climate and landscapes, the ecology of biota, land use management and social and political constraints to evaluate current land management strategies and outcomes