ZOOL40510 Conservation of Biodiversity: Theory and Practice

Academic Year 2021/2022

One of the few universal rules in ecology and evolution is extinction: sooner or later any species on Earth faces the risk of extinction, both locally and globally and, if we consider deep time, almost all the species that have existed on Earth are now extinct. But humans are dramatically accelerating rates of extinction in natural populations, loss of tropical forests being only one of the most evident and tragic examples. Humans directly cause loss of habitats for hundreds of thousands of different species globally and are indirectly causing even more extinctions through the global change effects triggered by alteration of natural landscapes, including fossil fuel extraction and consumption, deforestation and conversion to intensively managed agricultural land. The latest Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has revealed that at least 1 million species are threatened with extinction. In terrestrial habitats, species diversity has fallen by at least 20% since 1900 and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened. Most species threatened with extinction are plants and animals, and the extinction of these species will have enormous consequences on how the global ecosystem works. We need to take actions. Conservation biology tells us how we can stop the current extinction crisis and save biodiversity. In this module, students will learn what are current threats to biodiversity and how they can be handled. Students will learn to interpret and critically evaluate the literature within the field of conservation biology. They will learn the theory behind the most important methodologies in the construction of models used in conservation biology. Students will also learn simple solutions to the most basic problems and will be able to critically analyse the most complex problems.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module students should be able to:
- Understand and explain current threats to biodiversity, including global change factors and the current extinction crisis
- Interpret and critically evaluate the literature within the field of Conservation Biology
- Understand the methodogies in the construction of models used in conservation biology, including basic population models
- Offer simple solutions to basic problems of conservation biology, and critically discuss the most complex problems
- Offer an overview of major conservation issues, globally and locally (for example in Ireland).

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Computer Aided Lab


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This module blends theory and practice of conservation biology: lectures will introduce theory and fundamentals for application. Active/task-based learning in computer classes will put the content of the lectures into practice. Critical writing will be exercised by students through the delivery of three assignments linked to the active/task-based learning. Students will be exercising enquiry and case based learning, and the lecturer will stimulate debates and discussion in the class. The final exam will check that students have acquired fundamental knoweldge but also the ability of students to critically evaluate and assess study cases and problems in conservation biology. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Recommendations:

The Wildlife Conservation and Fisheries Management module ENVB30020 and Biogeography and Field Biology module ZOOL30060
are highly recommended

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Assignment: based on a computer practical class 1 Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No


Assignment: based on computer practical class 2 Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No


Assignment: based on computer practical class 3 Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No


Examination: Examination: Terminal examination (2 hours) 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Individual feedback is given to students post-assessment. Individual feedback is given during practicals as students complete worksheets. Individual and class feedback is given on completed worksheets, in the form of annotations and a grade.


Hunter, M.L. & Gibbs, J.P. (2007) Fundamentals of conservation biology. 3rd Edition
Van Dyke, Fred. (2008) Conservation biology: foundations, concepts, applications. Springer Science & Business Media.
Sutherland, WJ (2000) The conservation handbook: research, management and policy.
Sutherland, WJ (1998) Conservation science and action.
Groom Mj, Meffe GK, Carroll CR (2006). Principles of Conservation Biology

Research, Review and Synthesis papers will be provided during the module, mostly from journals such as:
Biological Conservation
Journal of Applied Ecology
Conservation Biology
Trends in Ecology and Evolution

Name Role
Dr Julia Jones Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Adam Kane Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Assoc Professor Mary Kelly-Quinn Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 5, 6, 8 Mon 11:00 - 11:50
Computer Aided Lab Offering 1 Week(s) - 6, 8 Mon 14:00 - 15:50
Computer Aided Lab Offering 1 Week(s) - 7 Thurs 11:00 - 12:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 5, 6, 7, 8 Tues 14:00 - 14:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 5, 6, 7, 8 Wed 12:00 - 12:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 7 Wed 14:00 - 14:50