Available in 2018

Course handbook


Being able to identify living organisms and to understand their functional role and interrelationships is the basis of all ecosystem studies. This course introduces students to the breadth of diversity of the Australian fauna and investigates its origins and significance of this diversity. Because of its long geological isolation Australia's fauna is rich and unique (endemic), with ancient and relict species and communities. The adaptations of the fauna to the diversity of habitats available and significant regions of biodiversity will be investigated. Co-evolution of the Australian flora and fauna is a recurring theme, with examples of seed dispersal, pollination and protection from predators. An emphasis is also placed on the applied aspects of habitat and fauna assessments in the field.

Availability2018 Course Timetables


  • Semester 1 - 2018


  • Semester 1 - 2018

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Have a clear understanding of the origin of biological diversity & its various components

2. Understand the process & role of speciation & hybridisation, selection & adaptation, & sexual selection in an ecological context

3. Understand & apply the concepts & principles of ecology as it reflects on the distribution, & to animal-plant and animal-animal relationships

4. Have knowledge of the origins & relationships of Australian fauna

5. Be conversant with the principle of cladistics & phylogenetic reconstruction

6. Be conversant with the implications of molecular genetic data to systematics, biogeography & conservation biology of animals

7. Understand & use the classification system for animals

8. Understand the key physiological, anatomical & adaptive features of the major animal taxa

9. Understand the biogeographic & phylogeographic features of the distribution of animal communities from a global & Australian perspective

10. Apply established techniques to detecting the presence of animals & assessing the size & distribution of their populations in a given area

11. Prepare lists of animal species according to taxonomic & ecological schemes

12. Describe the current survival status of given animal species in Australia against the background of nature conservation principles

13. Apply the principles of land management with respect to the conservation & re-establishment of animal populations during and following perturbation

14. Interpret scientific data

15. Present scientific data in written and oral forms

16. Be familiar with the pertinent literature in texts, journals & technical reports

17. Write laboratory reports in standard scientific format

18. Show familiarity with current events in systematics & ecology

19. Handle a range of field equipment used in fauna studies, including programmable dataloggers, traps, nets, electronic detection devices, GPS & other equipment

20. Develop a systematic approach to solving problems

21. Develop a coherent overview of Science & its disciplines

22. Apply or adapt appropriate theory & techniques in a wide range of contexts


The Theme of the course revolves around investigating the origins of biological diversity and its various components. Specific emphasis is given to investigating the origin and relationships of Australia's fauna.

  1. Modes of speciation and its outcomes, natural selection and adaptation and the significance of sexual selection. The ecological context of speciation.
  2. Australia's past, geology and it biological consequences. Gondwanan lineages, Immigration and emigration.
  3. The origin of endemism
  4. The genetic basis of evolutionary change.
  5. Reproductive effort, sexual selection and
  6. Methods to study, identify and describe the diversity of animals. These include the use of classification schemes, phylogenetic reconstruction and phylogeography.
  7. The ecology of a range of selected Australian animals will be dealt within in some detail. Ecological interactions as examples of long evolutionary associations.
  8. Unique adaptations to aridity, salinity, low nutrients, and fire.

Assumed knowledge

BIOL1001 or BIOL1002, and BIOL1003 (Callaghan students) BIOL1040 and BIOL1070 (or BIOL1050) (Ourimbah students)

Assessment items

Formal Examination: Examination: Formal.

Tutorial / Laboratory Exercises: Laboratory assignments, field excursion test and assignment (where pracs are taken as field work)

Compulsory Requirements

In order to pass this course, each student must complete ALL of the following compulsory requirements:

General Course Requirements:

  • Practical: Induction Requirement - Students must attend and pass the induction requirements before attending these sessions. - In order to participate in this course, students must complete a compulsory lab/fieldwork induction.

Contact hours

Callaghan and Ourimbah

Field Study

Face to Face Off Campus 21 hour(s) per Term Full Term


Face to Face On Campus 2 hour(s) per Week for Full Term


Face to Face On Campus 3 hour(s) per Fortnight for Full Term


Face to Face On Campus 1 hour(s) per Week for Full Term