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This subject will introduce you to the natural history of Australia from the Cretaceous to the present and the influence of Australia's First Peoples and Europeans on Australia’s environments. You will be observing, recording, and reflecting on the diversity of the natural world. You will explore the major biomes and climatic zones that have existed across the continent in the past and the influence of climate change on their present and future distributions. We will look at the incredible diversity of Australian flora, including the iconic Eucalyptus, and their adaptations for survival in the face of drought and fire. We will consider the biological challenges, adaptations and evolutionary journeys that have led to our current faunal diversity, including Australia's familiar and our more elusive animal inhabitants - from kangaroos to velvet worms. This subject includes Australia's marine and freshwater ecosystems and their diversity, from the coral reefs to the inland rivers. We consider their biological, economic and social value. Throughout, we will discuss our conservation successes and failures and how we protect our precious flora and fauna for the future. This subject includes self-guided field trips within the bounds of the Melbourne metropolitan region.
Intended learning outcomes
By the end of this subject students should be able to:
- comprehend the evolutionary history of the Australian biota, and the influence of past changes in geology, climate and soil;
- relate the structure and physiology of native plants and animals to their survival in Australian environments;
- demonstrate an emerging ability to identify and record observations of flora and fauna in the field;
- recognise the inherent and practical value of the diversity of the Australian biota;
- demonstrate an understanding of how humans have shaped Australian ecosystems; and
- explain approaches to the conservation of Australia's flora and fauna.
On completion of this subject students should have developed the following generic skills:
- ability to clearly communicate knowledge of Australia's diverse flora and fauna and the environments in which they are found;
- capacity to apply knowledge of flora and fauna to observations in the field and the interpretation and analysis of biological information;
- demonstrated information literacy through the gathering, evaluation, and appropriate use of written resources;
- ability to work collaboratively and respectfully with other students in tutorials and in online fora; and
- demonstrated effective teamwork and safe practices in planning and undertaking a self-guided field trip in an urban setting.
Last updated: 7 September 2023