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PL3804: PLANT ECOLOGY (2015-2016)

Last modified: 25 Mar 2016 11:34

Course Overview

How and why are plant communities formed, sustained and lost?

The focus is on plant communities, especially interactions among species and with the non-living environment. Main themes are: populations, life histories and strategies, describing communities, community interactions, and changing communities.

Delivery is by lectures, seminars, computer labs, experimental work and field trips.

There is a strong emphasis on quantitative techniques, including ordination, sampling vegetation and the analysis of data sets.

During the course, you will develop skills in enquiry, field techniques, data exploration and team working.


Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 3
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus None. Sustained Study No
  • Dr Clare Trinder

Qualification Prerequisites


What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?


Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

Plants interact in a whole range of ways and there's a lot going on in plant communities.  Some of it happens on time-scales that make it hard for us to study them.  Some of it happens in places where it is hard for us to study (e.g. underground).  It can often be hard to quantify interactions between plants so we have to use innovative approaches and detective work to understand what is happening.  Plants are essential to all life and provide food to the next tier of organisms. 

To avoid overlap with the Plant-Animal Interactions course, we do not cover herbivory.  However, we will be looking at a range of plant interactions, population dynamics, strategies, patterns of diversity.  We will also look at how we can quantify plant communities and analyse the patterns in plant distribution.  Weather permitting we will do some fieldtrips to quantify plant communities in the real world; you will also get the opportunity to undertake an experimental manipulation on an artificial grassland community.

Associated Costs


Further Information & Notes

This course runs in weeks 31-35, and is scheduled in Thread 2, so may have contact hours in any or all of these times: Mondays, 14-18; Tuesday, all day; Friday, 14-18. If this is an optional course, there may also be contact hours on Wednesdays, 9-11.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown


More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 31 August 2023 for 1st half-session courses and 22 December 2023 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt: Written exam (60%) and continuous assessment (40%). Continuous assessment is based on a review essay and a data analysis report (each contributes to half of the continuous assessment mark). Resit: Written exam and resubmission of any failed coursework.

Formative Assessment

A strong emphasis will be made throughout the course on informal verbal feedback during seminar and workshop sessions.


Each student will receive individual feedback and a mark for each task. Feedback will be provided as written comments. Groups will also be given generic feedback.

Course Learning Outcomes


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