Biodiversity & Conservation

Course Description: 

This course focuses on biodiversity loss and the importance of biodiversity conservation. In this course, students will survey the patterns of global diversity within various biomes and learn the most pressing threats leading to declines in biodiversity. Students will be introduced to the theory and principles involved in conservation and learn about governmental and non-governmental efforts to protect natural environments and develop sustainable practices to meet human needs. In addition, there will be a natural history film and a ½ day field trip to the Budapest Zoo to view ex-situ conservation in practice.

Lectures, discussions, exercises, films, assigned readings, and two assignments will focus on the following:

1. Global biodiversity patterns and factors affecting variation in terrestrial, marine, and aquatic ecosystems; emphasis will be placed on regional diversity hotspots and important conservation areas including IUCN classified protected areas, RAMSAR sites, Biosphere Reserves and other systems of global significance.

2. Philosophical and ethical questions of biodiversity conservation will also be discussed, e.g. Why should we conserve biodiversity? Should a price be put on the value of species or ecosystems? Is there a special duty to protect (endangered) species?  etc.

3. Threats to biodiversity resulting from life history patterns, population size, and other factors coupled with trends in human population growth and associated activities (HIPPO dilemma).

4. Priorities in conservation and conservation planning (case studies & exercises).

5. The role of hunting in biodiversity conservation.

6. Community-based conservation (CBC). Efforts of integrating conservation and development (ICDPs), and using conservation as a form of poverty alleviation.

Learning Outcomes: 

Foundational Knowledge: 1. understand what is meant by biodiversity and its value; 2. understand current threats to biodiversity; 3. recall the basic concepts of conservation practices; 4. aware of the relevant legislation and recent initiatives in EU and world wide; 5. understand the role and principles of operation of different types of protected areas; 6. understand the opportunities and challenges surrounding community-based conservation; Application: 7. analyze the range of options for biodiversity conservation; 8. measure and compare levels of biodiversity between areas; 9. utilize the IUCN Species Red List; Integration: 10. prioritize sites for conservation; 11. evaluate conservation trade-offs between competing interests; Human Dimension: 12. understand the personal and social implications of conserving biodiversity; Caring: 13. develop a deeper concern and appreciation for biodiversity and its conservation; 14. articulate their own conservation philosophy; 15. appreciate the conservation philosophies of others; 16. improve their group-working skills. Learning How to Learn: 17. continue learning about biodiversity and its conservation; 18. critically engage in conservation debates well beyond the course.

Assessment: 

Assn 1 (spiders as exemplars of biodiversity)
LOs 1,5,8,10,11
40%

Assn 2 (presentation/report on selected topic)
LOs 1-7,11-13,14,16,17
60%