Hong Kong Field Course

7 – 18 October 2019

Hong Kong is a bustling metropolis located in a region of high biodiversity. It therefore makes an ideal location to explore biodiversity and how humans interact with, influence, and threaten wildlife, from the exploitation of natural resources to things like the illegal wildlife trade. Hong Kong is also surrounded by several comparatively preserved natural ecosystems, from tropical forests through to marine habitats.

Despite intense urbanisation, several ecosystems have also recovered and biodiversity remains high in surrounding forests and marine zones (especially for birds, mammals, fish, butterflies, and other invertebrates). Hong Kong therefore makes an ideal location to study biodiversity, ecology, evolution, and behaviour, and to explore the challenges facing wildlife on global and regional scales. You will spend part of the course in Hong Kong City, learning about threats to biodiversity and ecosystems, and part of the time located more rurally studying ecology and behaviour. Further information on the module will be provided in term 3 of the final stage, including practical details about the field course.

Module Aims

This module aims to develop scientific knowledge and an understanding of biodiversity, as well as the threats facing wildlife and ecosystems regionally and globally. A practical understanding of these issues will be developed through activities and data collection in a variety of settings. You will undertake group tasks, observations, and experiments in Hong Kong City exploring issues relating to fishing and food consumption and its effects on marine environments, the wildlife trade (for pets, traditional medicine, and food), and how biodiversity can persist even in highly urbanised areas. You will also explore more rural areas with tasks and experiments to understand ecosystems such as coral reefs, intertidal zones, and forests, including how they function, aspects of species interactions, and behaviour. You will conduct your own project involving the conception, design, and execution of this.

The activities on this field course are driven by research that is currently taking place in Hong Kong and surrounding areas, Penryn, and globally. You will have the opportunity to learn from local experts and researchers, and engage in projects of relevance to biodiversity, ecology, and the environmental challenges faced in an area of high population pressure.

The skills you gain from fieldwork, teamwork, working with unfamiliar biodiversity, and working around the clock, will all stand you in good stead for careers and employability in ecology, evolutionary biology, and the environmental sector by developing or enhancing your employability. Transferable skills to other sectors include: problem solving (linking theory to practice, responding to novel and unfamiliar problems, data handling), time management (managing time effectively individually and within a group), collaboration (taking initiative and leading others, supporting others in their work), self and peer review (taking responsibility for own learning, using feedback from multiple sources), presentation skills and audience awareness (presenting ideas effectively in multiple formats). The teaching contributions on this module involve elements of research undertaken by module staff, such as work on animal ecology, behaviour, and marine biology (Stevens), and human interactions, behaviour, and evolution (Currie).

Module Convenor: Professor Martin Stevens (Professor in Sensory and Evolutionary Ecology)

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