Human population growth is causing irreversible change to almost all environments on earth. The extent of human change has been so great that a new geological epoch, the anthropocene, has been defined. Global warming, the introduction of pollutants and excessive use of nutrients are stressors affecting the biodiversity and resilience of ecosystems, and pose threats to human and environmental health. These human impacts carefully need to be monitored to guide appropriate management of urban, natural and agricultural systems. In this unit you will learn about transport pathways of pollutants, bioaccumulation, environmental toxicology (e.g., LD50 values), environmental monitoring and remediation techniques. Through lectures, laboratories and group work, concepts and methods of environmental monitoring will be illustrated and discussed including findings from the latest research. You will participate in structured practical exercises and field trips where you will apply sampling techniques, use bio-indicators and diversity indices to monitor ecosystem functioning. You will interpret the results and assess what the implications are for the ecological functioning and sustainable management of the environment. These hands-on exercises will be complemented with case-studies to guide you in critically analysing and evaluating environmental monitoring data. By taking this unit, you will acquire the necessary skills and knowledge in monitoring sites impacted by human activity.
One 2-hour lecture per week; one 3-hour computer/laboratory practical per week; one 1-hour tutorial every three weeks; two half-day field trips
Group presentation (10%), quiz (10%), lab reports (30%), final exam (50%)
Artiola, Pepper, and Brusseau. 2004. Environmental Monitoring and Characterization. Elsevier Academic Press.
Understanding of scientific principles and concepts including biodiversity, human impacts on the environment, properties of substances (e.g., acidity, alkalinity, solvents) and basic knowledge of statistics.