BS303-6-SU-CO:
Estuarine and Coastal Ecology Field Module

The details
2023/24
Life Sciences (School of)
Colchester Campus
Summer
Undergraduate: Level 6
Current
Monday 22 April 2024
Friday 28 June 2024
15
21 September 2023

 

Requisites for this module
BS257
(none)
(none)
(none)

 

(none)

Key module for

BSC C100 Biological Sciences,
BSC C101 Biological Sciences (Including Year Abroad),
BSC C102 Biological Sciences (Including Placement Year),
BSC CD00 Biological Sciences (Including Foundation Year),
BSC C161 Marine Biology (Including Foundation Year),
BSC C164 Marine Biology,
BSC CC60 Marine Biology (Including Year Abroad),
BSC CC64 Marine Biology (Including Placement Year),
MSCIB097 Tropical Marine Biology,
MSCIBA97 Tropical Marine Biology (Including Placement Year),
MSCIBB97 Tropical Marine Biology (Including Year Abroad)

Module description

This module concentrates on the relationship between biological diversity, and aspects of water chemistry and habitat structure in different coastal environments situated along an estuarine gradient. We will be using the Colne / Blackwater estuary complex as our field site.


The module is structured to assess the important environmental variables in estuarine ecology, to gain experience in different sampling protocols, and practice fieldwork skills. In interpreting the data and completing the assignments, you should draw upon your existing knowledge of estuarine and marine systems, sampling strategies, and ecological theory obtained during the second year theory modules and practicals.

Module aims

The aims of this module are to:



  1. Describe the different scales of variation present within an estuarine environment.

  2. Implement safety guidance for sampling soft-sediment coastal environments.

  3. Demonstrate the principles of spectrophotometric methods for dissolved nutrient analysis.

  4. Quantify sediment water content, ash-free dry-weight (AFDW) and extract pore water.

  5. Test inorganic nutrient limitation of primary productivity in water samples.

  6. Demonstrate identification skills for estuarine flora and fauna, and be able to use scientific keys to identify them.

  7. Record data in laboratory books to permit quality audits and accurate retrieval of information.

  8. Present data in a suitable graphical form to allow interpretation.

  9. Analyse a large data set using suitable statistical tests.

  10. Interpret your findings in the context of other texts and literature.

  11. Design a field survey programme for work in an estuarine environment.

  12. Gather and interpret information from local stakeholders.

  13. Summarize and present graphically predicted environmental impacts of a project.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:



  1. Describe the different scales of variation present within an estuarine environment.

  2. Implement safety guidance for sampling soft-sediment coastal environments.

  3. Demonstrate the principles of spectrophotometric methods for dissolved nutrient analysis.

  4. Quantify sediment water content, ash-free dry-weight (AFDW) and extract pore water.

  5. Test inorganic nutrient limitation of primary productivity in water samples.

  6. Demonstrate identification skills for estuarine flora and fauna, and be able to use scientific keys to identify them.

  7. Record data in laboratory books to permit quality audits and accurate retrieval of information.

  8. Present data in a suitable graphical form to allow interpretation.

  9. Analyse a large data set using suitable statistical tests.

  10. Interpret your findings in the context of other texts and literature.

  11. Design a field survey programme for work in an estuarine environment.

  12. Gather and interpret information from local stakeholders.

  13. Summarize and present graphically predicted environmental impacts of a project.

Module information

This module builds on second year theory modules in Marine Biodiversity, Microbial Diversity & Biotechnology, and Ecological Monitoring & Assessment, and links to second year practicals on Estuarine Benthic Communities and Diversity in Amphipods. It will also provide a background for the third year module on Coastal Ecology.


This module is structured to assess the important environmental variables in estuarine ecology, to gain experience in different sampling protocols, and practice fieldwork skills, and to place biological knowledge in the context of human use of ecosystems. In interpreting the data and completing the assignments, you should draw upon your existing knowledge of estuarine and marine systems, sampling strategies, and ecological theory obtained during the second year theory courses and practicals.


Students will gain experience in the identification of a wide variety of animals and plants along the estuarine salinity and nutrient gradient, from the head of the estuary at Colchester to the open sea coast, and in associated coastal habitats including freshwater grazing marshes, salt marshes and borrow dykes. You will also receive training and practice in standard laboratory techniques, for example, measuring chlorophyll a and phosphate concentrations, and measurement of sediment properties.


Further details of this module will be given out at a short meeting early in the summer term. You must attend this meeting.


Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • A 5-day intensive course.

The five-day course will be intensive, with long hours to accommodate periods of tidal emersion and immersion. All the work done on the course is assessed, with assessments having to be submitted at four stages. The marks count towards your overall third year mark.

Bibliography

This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Mini Paper    45% 
Coursework   Group Presentation    25% 
Coursework   Lab & Field Notebook    15% 
Coursework   Species ID Test    15% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%

Reassessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Natalie Hicks, email: natalie.hicks@essex.ac.uk.
Dr Tom Cameron, Kerry Etsebeth
School Undergraduate Office, email: bsugoffice (Non essex users should add @essex.ac.uk to create the full email address)

 

Availability
No
No
No

External examiner

Prof Edgar Turner
University of Cambridge
Professor of Insect Ecology
Resources
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.

 

Further information
Life Sciences (School of)

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