BIOL211-23S2 (C) Semester Two 2023

Insect Biology

This occurrence is not offered in 2023

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 17 July 2023
End Date: Sunday, 12 November 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 30 July 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 1 October 2023


The biology of insects and other non-marine arthropods, with emphasis on environmental relationships and management. Note - this course will be offered in even-numbered years.

Insects are the most diverse and successful group of organisms on Earth. Insects exhibit a startling array of life-history strategies, forms and functions, and they affect all aspects of our daily lives. Without insects, ecosystems as we know them would cease to exist. Entomology is not just about naming and classifying species, it is about discovering the evolutionary relationships among organisms, learning how species interact with each other to shape community structure, and applying detailed knowledge of insect biology to practical human problems. The aim of this course is to provide a fundamental grounding in insect biology that is essential for both theoretical and applied ecologists working in terrestrial and freshwater environments. The course will cover the diversity, evolution, systematics, physiology, ecology and behaviour of insects. Lectures will also cover applied aspects of insect biology. Insect Biology is particularly important for students pursuing third year courses in ecology, physiology and behaviour.
A basic understanding of biology is assumed, including knowledge of diversity and evolution provided by BIOL113.

Learning Outcomes

  •  An understanding of the evolutionary origin of distinct groups of insects, the diversity of insect orders and their unique identifying features assessment: on-line quizzes, laboratories, final exam).
  •  An understanding of insect form and function and the adaptions of insects to numerous environmental challenges (assessment: laboratories, practical test).
  •  An appreciation of the diverse ecological roles occupied by insects (assessment: on- line quizzes, final exam).
  •  Practical skills including insect collection, identification, and preservation (assessment: insect collection).
  •  An understanding of Māori names and the importance of several insects to Māori (assessment: in laboratories and insect collection).

    Pūkenga Ngaio | Transferable Skills

    As a student in this course, I will develop the following skills:
  • Synthesis & interpretation of information.  Research findings will be discussed in lectures, and implementing this skill will be important in all course assessment. GP1
  • Skills in taxonomic identification of insect orders. The process of taxonomic classification is fundamental to advancement in biology and ecology, as well as your own understanding of ecosystems. GP1 and 2.
  • The ability to organise the collection of field data, practical field skills, and the organisation of samples and processing post field collection. GP1 and 2.

    *GP1, GP2, etc, refer to Graduate Profile attributes: (1) Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their degree; (2) employable, innovative and enterprising; (3) biculturally competent and confident; (4) engaged with the community; and (5) globally aware.


Timetable Note

Lab 1 & 2 – Collecting insects in the field and learning to pin
Part of your time during lab one will involve time outside on campus learning how to sample and collect insects in the field using a number of different methods which are skills you will need to obtain taxa for the collection assignment. This is supported by laboratory sessions that teach you how to pin, label and display insects for the insect collection assignment. It is mandatory that all students attend these laboratory session as it focuses on the skills required to carry out the insect collection assignment.

Course Coordinator

Jonathan Tonkin


Steve Pawson

Guest Lecturer

Esta Tonkin

Lab Technician

Claire Galilee


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Online Multi-choice Tests 15%
Insect Collection Assignment 30%
Insect Identification Lab Assessment 15%
Final Exam 40%

Note that Biology policy (see end of this Course Information for details) requires you to obtain a score of at least 40% in the online tests and final exam, AND get an overall mark of at least 50%, to pass the course.

Textbooks / Resources

Recommended Reading

Gullan, P. J. , Cranston, P. S; The insects : an outline of entomology ; 4th ed; Wiley-Blackwel, 2010.

The text book below is highly recommended reading but we do not require you to have your own copy for this course. Copies can be accessed through the library.

Ētahi atu tuhinga e whai take ana | Other useful readings
The books below will be available to borrow in the lab
•  Which New Zealand Insect? by Andrew Crowe (Penguin). This is a helpful identification guide for NZ insects
•  The preparation and curation of insects, by Walker, A.K. and Crosby, T.K. (Science Information Publishing Centre, DSIR). This book will help you with pinning your insects.

Course links

Course Outline

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $951.00

International fee $4,750.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see School of Biological Sciences .

All BIOL211 Occurrences

  • BIOL211-23S2 (C) Semester Two 2023 - Not Offered