ZOOL30060 Biogeography and Field Biology

Academic Year 2023/2024

This course provides an introduction to the concepts of biogeography and the practicalities of field-based research. A short lecture series discusses how species' ranges vary at different ranges in space and time, outlines the major biogeographic regions and biomes, describes global patterns of species' diversity for a range of taxa and discusses how those patterns arise. The faunas of Ireland and Spain are then introduced in preparation for comparisons made on the basis of a field course in Ireland (part of ENVB30010 Systems Ecology) and a 6 day field course in southern Spain. This field course involves 3 days' sampling marine, freshwater and terrestrial habitats and 3 days' independent project work.

Show/hide contentOpenClose All

Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

- Describe some of the major patterns of distribution of species and biomes at a range of scales;
- Explain some of the processes causing patterns of diversity at a range of scales;
- Identify to Order most terrestrial and freshwater arthropods found during fieldwork in Ireland and Spain, and describe their key distinguishing features;
- Identify to Phylum most organisms on rocky shores; Use guidebooks and keys to identify species;
- Design simple sampling programmes and experiments to tackle ecological questions;
- Work as part of a team to a tight deadline;
- Prepare and present effective written reports, posters and oral presentations;
- Assess risks and work safely in field environments.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Field Trip/External Visits




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The module combines a set of 8 lectures in UCD, with a week-long residential field course in southern Spain, which runs in the mid-trimester break in the spring trimester. During the field course, there are set group exercises sampling biota in marine and terrestrial habitats and studying behaviour of apes on Gibraltar, followed by a three-day mini research project of your choice, also undertaken in small groups. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Requirements:

ENVB 20010 Ecology: Populations and Communities (co-requisite) OR ENVB 20050 Principles of Environmental Biology and Ecology (co-requisite)
ENVB 30010 Systems Ecology (co-requisite)

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
ENVB20050 - Principles of EnvBiol&Ecology, ENVB30010 - Systems Ecology

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Examination: Examination 1 hour End of Trimester Exam No Graded No


Fieldwork: Test, project and notebook in Spain Week 9 n/a Graded No


Lab Report: Report comparing faunas of Ireland and Spain Week 11 n/a Graded No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn Yes - 1 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Assessment during the field trip comprises a test of identification skills and knowledge, a project presentation and field notebooks. The test and project are graded in situ and feedback provided immediately in written and oral form respectively. The field notebooks are graded and annotated within 20 days of submission and returned to students. The report is graded and annotated and returned to students within 20 days of submission.

Name Role
Dr Jan-Robert Baars Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Paul Brooks Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Adam Kane Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Professor Mary Kelly-Quinn Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Assoc Professor Tom Wilkinson Lecturer / Co-Lecturer