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Analysing Ecosystems and Their Values (ENST90044)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codeENST90044
Semester 1
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

Terrestrial ecosystems provide a wide range of values—from biodiversity and carbon storage to clean water and recreational opportunities in interaction with social systems. Managing ecosystems to sustain these values requires understanding what values exist in a given ecosystem, their interactions with society and how they change over time and space. However, natural ecosystems and the social context within which they are embedded are inherently variable across scales—capturing the many ecosystem values presents a significant challenge. This unit will explore the principles of, and approaches to, ecosystem assessment and monitoring across both the biophysical and social domains. We will focus on developing practical skills in the design of social and biophysical assessments, data collection and the analysis of quantitative and qualitative data associated with natural resources and their management. Example assessment approaches include ecological monitoring, forest inventory, stakeholder analysis, participatory mapping and value-based conversations, among many others. We will draw on examples from a range of ecosystems around the world.

This subject will involve practicals and a three-day, pre-semester field trip.

Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Understand the key principles of ecosystem monitoring and assessment;
  • Critically analyse existing ecosystem monitoring and assessment programs;
  • Develop a robust design for quantitative and qualitative assessment of ecosystem values and related social values and practices for a case-study scenario;
  • Understand different approaches and techniques/tools for conducting ecosystem assessments;
  • Apply a range of standard equipment and techniques for conducting quantitative and qualitative ecosystem assessments;
  • Select, undertake, and interpret output from basic statistical and qualitative analyses of biophysical and social data;
  • Produce a basic report assessing a range of values for a specific ecosystem and its stakeholders and describing the uncertainties associated with their measurement.
  • Integrate social and ecological data from multiple sources to identify system interactions and management issues; and

Generic skills

  • Project development and management
  • Critical thinking (problem definition, analysis and synthesis)
  • Data analysis
  • Report writing

Eligibility and requirements





Non-allowed subjects


Core participation requirements

The University of Melbourne is committed to providing students with reasonable adjustments to assessment and participation under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), and the Assessment and Results Policy (MPF1326). Students are expected to meet the core participation requirements for their course. These can be viewed under Entry and Participation Requirements for the course outlines in the Handbook.

Further details on how to seek academic adjustments can be found on the Student Equity and Disability Support website: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/student-equity/home



Ecosystem Assessment and Monitoring Project (semester-long, submitted during examination period) (2000 words) (40%)

  • 2000 words
During the examination period40%

Practical Reports (due fortnightly in weeks 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12) (500 words each x 6 = 3000 words) (60%)

  • 3000 words
Throughout the semester60%

Additional details

Dates & times

  • Semester 1
    Principal coordinatorPatrick Baker
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hours4 hrs of practicals per weeks = 48 hrs 3-day pre-semester field trip (@8 hrs per day) = 24 hrs Total Contact Hours = 72 hrs
    Total time commitment170 hours
    Teaching period25 February 2019 to 2 June 2019
    Last self-enrol date 8 March 2019
    Census date31 March 2019
    Last date to withdraw without fail10 May 2019
    Assessment period ends28 June 2019

Time commitment details

Reading and preparation for lectures: 3 hrs per week = 36 hrs Preparation for assessments: 5 hrs per week = 60 hrs Additional Time Commitments = 96 hrs

Further information

  • Texts

    Prescribed texts

    Recommended texts and other resources

    Bolker B. 2008. Ecological Models and Data in R. Princeton University Press.

    Hilborn R, Mangel M. 1997. The Ecological Detective: Confronting Models with Data. Princeton University Press.

    Example journal article:

    Dobbs C, Kendal, D, Nitschke CR 2014. Multiple ecosystem services and disservices of the urban forest: Establishing their connections with landscape structure and socio-demographics. Ecological Indicators. 43, pp 44-55.

  • Subject notes

    Students maybe asked to contribute to food and expenses while in the field.

  • Incidental costs

    Students maybe asked to contribute to food and expenses while in the field.

  • Available through the Community Access Program

    About the Community Access Program (CAP)

    This subject is available through the Community Access Program (also called Single Subject Studies) which allows you to enrol in single subjects offered by the University of Melbourne, without the commitment required to complete a whole degree.

    Entry requirements including prerequisites may apply. Please refer to the CAP applications page for further information.

  • Available to Study Abroad and/or Study Exchange Students

    This subject is available to students studying at the University from eligible overseas institutions on exchange and study abroad. Students are required to satisfy any listed requirements, such as pre- and co-requisites, for enrolment in the subject.

Last updated: 21 September 2019