BIOL371-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023

Evolutionary Ecology

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 20 February 2023
End Date: Sunday, 25 June 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 5 March 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 14 May 2023


The focus of this course is on how the interplay between ecological and evolutionary forces generate biological diversity at many levels, and how this knowledge is used to solve problems in human health, agriculture and conservation.

Evolutionary ecology is the branch of ecology that considers how organisms have evolved to become adapted to their physical environment and how they interact with members of their own, and other species. It considers the evolutionary effects of competitors, mutualists, predators, prey and pathogens. Unifying ideas in this course are evolution within ecological timeframes and evolutionary mechanisms leading to the evolution of new species.

Learning Outcomes

  • As a student in this course I will develop the ability to:  

  • have a critical appreciation of current questions and approaches in evolutionary ecology (assessment task: quizzes, final exam,GP1,GP3, GP5;  K1, K7).
  • understand how evolutionary processes underpin ecological interactions (assessment task: quizzes, essay, final exam, GP1,GP2, GP5; K5, K7).
  • appreciate the roles of observational, experimental and comparative evidence in answering questions of evolutionary ecology (assessment task: final exam and oral presentation, GP1,GP2, GP3, K1).
  • synthesise and critically assess primary scientific literature in order to be able to summarise scientific papers in the form of an essay and an oral presentation (Assessment task: essay, oral presentation GP2).
  • Synthesise primary scientific literature able to generate a clear and concise argument in support of a perspective (assessment task: final exam, GP2).

    Pūkenga ngaio / Transferable skills
    The following skills are developed in this course:

  • Synthesising and interpreting information.  In everyday life and in many job situations you will be required to read information from different sources, construct your own understanding and shape your own viewpoint. In lectures and tutorials we will discuss recent research papers in a group environment and this will develop your abilities to identify the essential elements of research outputs - you will then use in your talk and essay writing. (GP1, GP2, GP5)
  • Ability to find relevant information in the popular and scientific literature As part of the essay assignment you will learn how to identify and access current and relevant information. (GP1 & 2)  
  • Presenting a scientific talk.  The scientific talk has become one of the most important communication forums for the scientific community; more people are likely to listen to you talk than read your paper.  In many ways your research reputation will be enhanced (or diminished) by your scientific talk. We have developed tutorials to help you create a good talk and provide opportunities for you to present your talk in a conference situation. (GP1 & 2)
  • Work in a team. You will work in teams to prepare and present your conference papers.  (GP2)


Timetable Note

Feedback from Course Survey 2019

Student ratings 2019
1. This was a well organized course 4.4
2. Course helped to stimulate my interest 4.4
3. Workload 4.5
4 The assessments in this course measured my learning effectively 4.4
5. Overall, this was a good quality course 4.4

The following issues were raised in written feedback by students at the end of the course. The responses were collated by the course coordinator and common responses scored. Action taken in response to feedback written below.
Which aspects of this course were most positive? :
The enthusiasm of the lecturers.
Loved the presentations!
The feedback was really helpful.
How could this course be enhanced to assist your learning? :
Increase the % mark of the conference talks.
Response: We have done this; this year the conference talks together are worth 20% of your total mark.
Minimal guidance on essay, and having it so early in the term, with some content based on topics still to be taught…
Response: The essay is now due in after the mid-term break. The essay is specifically designed to introduce a new topic into the course, so we won’t have covered it in lectures.
We have also introduced weekly quizzes to assist in learning

Note: By taking this course students agree that all required papers may be subject to submission for textual similarity review to for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers will be included as source documents in the reference database solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of such papers. Use of the service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the site.

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Hazel Chapman


Sarah Flanagan , Amy Osborne and Pieter Pelser


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Essay 20%
Final Exam 50%
Conference presentation 1 10% Term 1
Conference presentation 2 10% Term 2
Quizzes 10% I per week for 11 weeks

Textbooks / Resources

There is no single textbook required for this course however we are using Eco-Evolutionary Dynamics by Andrew Hendry as a reference text. It is available as a e book- downloadable- in the library. In addition, during the course each lecturer will identify key books and scientific papers relevant to each lecture.  We will ensure the most current literature is available to you on LEARN.

To do well in final exam you must show evidence that you have read and understood this material.

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 BIOL371 Occurrences

  • BIOL371-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023