ECOL07002 2019 Ecological Monitoring

General Details

Full Title
Ecological Monitoring
Transcript Title
Ecological Monitoring
75 %
Subject Area
ECOL - Ecology
ESCI - Environmental Science
07 - NFQ Level 7
05 - 05 Credits
Start Term
2019 - Full Academic Year 2019-20
End Term
9999 - The End of Time
Declan Feeney, Frances Lucy, Noel Connaughton, Paul Hamilton, Dolores Byrne, Ana Vale
Programme Membership
SG_SENVI_B07 201900 Bachelor of Science in Environmental Protection SG_SENVI_H08 201900 Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Environmental Science SG_SECOL_H08 202000 Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Environmental Science with Ecology SG_SSCIE_B07 201900 Bachelor of Science in Science SG_SSCIE_H08 201900 Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Science SG_SECOL_B07 202100 Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science with Ecology SG_SECOL_H08 202100 Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Environmental Science with Ecology

This module describes the use of bioindicators and bioindices in ecological monitoring. This module provides an introduction to ecological monitoring in a variety of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. It describes the use of bioindicators and bioindices as an essential component of environmental monitoring and in the assessment of environment quality. The module also focuses on the legislative ecological monitoring requirements to assess progress in achieving objectives of a wide range of EU legislation, in particular the EU Water Framework, Birds and Habitats Directives. Biodiversity assessment using a range of biodiversity measures and indices will be taught. Practical work will involve visits to a range of sites to sample, identify and apply a selection of monitoring methods.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module the learner will/should be able to;


Describe a range of bioindicators and bioindices that can be used in the monitoring of air, water and terrestrial environmental quality


Demonstrate an ability to critically evaluate ecological monitoring systems currently used for condition assessment for various EU Directives


Critique the use of ecological monitoring versus physical and chemical monitoring in assessment of environmental quality


Evaluate the ecological condition of freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems using appropriate bioindicators and bioindices


Describe biodiversity and its assessment using a range of indices (e.g. similarity, diversity and rarity)

Teaching and Learning Strategies

This module will be delivered full-time (or part-time for online modules). This will include lectures, laboratory practicals, and site visits augmented by independent learning and directed learning. This approach is expected to address student learning needs. Moodle will be used as a repository of educational resources and as a means of assessment (e.g. quizzes, uploading assignments and journals).

Module Assessment Strategies

The module will be assessed using a combination of end of semester final exam (50%), continuous assessment and course work (50%). The continuous assessment and course work will involve two written scientific reports. In addition, there will be an end of semester practical assignment where students are required to analyse and interpret ecological monitoring data from a hypothetical site under investigation.

The student must reach an assigned gate (mark) in the final exam and achieve 40% overall to pass the subject.



Repeat Assessments

Repeat Continuous Assessment and/or Final Exam

Indicative Syllabus

Indicative lectures and practicals, at the discretion of the lecturer, to meet the learning outcomes 

Introduction to ecological monitoring, bioindicators and bioindices

  • The characteristics of bioindicators
  • Challenges of using bioindicators
  • Bioindices and how they are used 

Ecological monitoring of aquatic ecosystems, e.g.

  • Freshwater and marine monitoring using algae - identification and use as bioindicators
  • Freshwater monitoring using invertebrates - identification and use as bioindicators

Ecological monitoring of terrestrial ecosystems, e.g.

  • Plants and vegetation condition assessment
  • Lichens 
  • Terrestrial invertebrates, e.g. butterflies, pollinators, ground beetles
  • Birds
  • Agri-environmental monitoring
  • Specific habitat monitoring, e.g. uplands

Ecological monitoring requirements of EU Directives:

  • Water Framework Directive
  • Habitats and Birds Directives
  • Other directives as relevant

Biodiversity and its assessment

  • Measures of biodiversity, e.g. species diversity, richness and evenness
  • Challenges of using measures of biodiversity

Ecological survey methodologies:

  • Laboratory practicals - a range of biomonitoring surveys will be carried out (at the discretion of the lecturer to meet the learning outcomes), for example: 
    • Freshwater macroinvertebrate sampling protocol, identification and indices
    • Lichen sampling protocol, identification and indices
    • Wetland habitat identification and monitoring techniques
    • Upland habitats identification and monitoring techniques

Coursework & Assessment Breakdown

Coursework & Continuous Assessment
50 %
End of Semester / Year Formal Exam
50 %

Coursework Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Written report - two written scientific reports Continuous Assessment Written Report/Essay 30 % OnGoing 2,4,5
2 Analyse and interpret ecological monitoring data from a hypothetical site under investigation Practical Practical Evaluation 20 % Week 13 2,3,4

End of Semester / Year Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 End of semester examination Final Exam Closed Book Exam 50 % End of Term 1,2,3,5

Full Time Mode Workload

Type Location Description Hours Frequency Avg Workload
Lecture Lecture Theatre Theory lectures 2 Weekly 2.00
Practical/Laboratory Science Laboratory Laboratory practicals and field trips 2 Weekly 2.00
Independent Learning Not Specified Independent learning 3 Weekly 3.00
Total Full Time Average Weekly Learner Contact Time 4.00 Hours

Required & Recommended Book List

Required Reading
2015-01-05 Environmental Indicators Springer

Environmental indicators are the first line of warning against hazards caused by humans or nature catastrophes to prevent diseases and death of living organisms. The present book covers a large variety of environmental indicators from physical-chemistry through economical, bioinformatics, electromagnetic irradiation and health aspects, all dealing with environmental pollution. This volume has been intended to environmentalists, engineers, scientists and policy makers as well to anybody interested in the latest development in the indicator field.

Module Resources

Non ISBN Literary Resources

Spellerberg, I.F. 2005. Monitoring Ecological Change, 2nd edition. Cambridge University Press.

Treweek, J. 2009. Ecological Impact Assessment. Wiley-Blackwell.

Hill, D., Fasham, M., Tucker, G., Shewry, M. & Shaw. P. 2005. Handbook of Biodiversity Methods: survey, evaluation and monitoring. Cambridge University Press


Journal Resources

Journal of Applied Ecology

Journal of Ecology

Journal of Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

Journal of Environmental Indicators


URL Resources

National Parks and Wildlife Service -

Environment Protection Agency -

National Biodiversity Data Centre -

Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management -

Centre for Ecology and Hydrology -

Other Resources

Additional resources will be made available on IT Sligo learn online system (Moodle) at the discretion of the lecturer. Will contain pdfs of powerpoint lectures and links to additional reading material for selected topics.

Additional Information