AGEN 7002 Ecosystems in a Changing World

Credit Points 10

Legacy Code 800170

Coordinator Yolima Carrillo Espanol Opens in new window

Description Natural and managed ecosystems on our planet are experiencing a rapidly changing environment as a consequence of changing patterns of land and resource use, loss of biodiversity, altered atmospheric composition and anthropogenic climate change. This subject will introduce students to ecosystem concepts in the context of ecological and evolutionary responses to global change. Students will obtain practical experience in quantitative analysis of carbon, nutrient, water and energy budgets, and explore the consequences of global change for ecosystem services and biodiversity over a range of spatial and temporal scales. Teaching will be led by HIE staff with expertise in ecosystem responses to environmental change, soil microbial contributions to ecosystem function and the impacts of environmental change on plants, animals and their interactions.

School Graduate Research School

Discipline Agriculture, Environmental and Related Studies, Not Elsewhere Classified.

Student Contribution Band HECS Band 2 10cp

Check your fees via the Fees page.

Level Postgraduate Coursework Level 7 subject

Assumed Knowledge

A Bachelor of Science in Biology, Environmental Science, or Agricultural Science, with some background in plant science and ecology.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:

  1. Quantitatively describe fundamental ecosystem functions
  2. Solve problems mathematically on paper and in spreadsheets
  3. Construct and interpret graphical representations of data
  4. Apply systems approach to complex environmental issues
  5. Critically discuss primary research articles on ecosystem responses to environmental change
  6. Write critical evaluation of a primary research article

Subject Content

Ecosystem concepts, introduction to global change
Geology and soils
Water and energy balance
Primary production and allocation
Carbon cycling
Nutrient cycling
Microbial ecology and ecosystem processes
Trophic dynamics; food webs and plant-animal interactions
Biodiversity and ecosystem function
Temporal dynamics: Disturbance, succession
Scaling from plots to the globe; landscape processes
Global change and ecosystems
Ecosystem management in a changing world


The following table summarises the standard assessment tasks for this subject. Please note this is a guide only. Assessment tasks are regularly updated, where there is a difference your Learning Guide takes precedence.

Type Length Percent Threshold Individual/Group Task
Short Answer 5 sets 50 N Individual
Essay 4 x 250 words 20 N Individual
Quiz 3 x 30 minutes 30 N Individual

Prescribed Texts

  • Chapin, FS, Matson, PA & Vitousek, PM, 2012, Principles of terrestrial ecosystem ecology, 2nd edn, Springer, New York.

Teaching Periods

Spring (2023)



Subject Contact Yolima Carrillo Espanol Opens in new window

View timetable Opens in new window

Spring (2024)



Subject Contact Yolima Carrillo Espanol Opens in new window

View timetable Opens in new window