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Semester 1

Plant Physiological Ecology (ECSC10039)


Ecological Science





Normal Year Taken


Delivery Session Year



Course Summary

This course introduces the science of Physiological Plant Ecology with a strong focus on plant water relations and how recent climate change is affecting these. Plant Physiological Ecology teaches how plants function, grow and survive in their ecosystems and understanding Physiological Plant Ecology underpins food security, ecosystem restoration and the understanding of water as a resource. The course is set to inspire students to learn and think about how terrestrial ecosystems work and function, and what challenges they will be facing in the future. The course brings the underlying theory of plant functioning together with practical hand-on learning in the laboratory. A three hours' practical, which will take place every week is accompanied with alternating weekly 1.5-hour lectures and group tutorials.

Course Description

The causation and consequences from the different speed of water transport in plants will be the main topic discussed throughout the course. Students will learn about the backgrounds to water conduction and growth in plants, as well as the effects and responses to drought stress. This will be brought in context with future climate change predictions and therefore provide the students with the conceptual framework and understanding of what the biggest challenges for Physiological Plant Ecology in the future will be. The course consists of two 2 major components: 1. Background Theory To cover theoretical background knowledge, 1.5-hour lectures will be held every second week during the semester. In the weeks between the lectures there will be a tutorial discussing recent research relevant to the topic covered in the lecture. The lectures will cover the following topics: The working plant Soil-Plant-Atmosphere continuum The transport of water Plant water relations Plant physiology in a changing climate 2. Practical experience A three-hour practical will take place each week. The practical sessions will consist of a one-hour introduction to the topic and 2 hours practical work in the laboratory. In week 1, the course will make an additional external visit to the SBS plant growth facilities. The following topics will be covered each week: Week 1: Leaf anatomy Week 2: Transpiration and adaptation of the leaf Week 3: Trichomes, crystals and secretion Week 4: Structure function and ecology of stomata Week 5: Anatomy of the vascular bundle Week 6: Biology of trees structure and function of the plant stem (gymnosperms) Week 7: Biology of trees - structure and function of the plant stem (angiosperms) Week 8: Hydraulic conductivity Week 9: Poikilohydry and photosynthesis Week 10: Growth and biomass allocation

Assessment Information

Written Exam 30%, Coursework 70%, Practical Exam 0%

Additional Assessment Information

Final exam (30% of the final mark) See learning outcomes 1 and 2 «br /»Course work (70% of the final mark) See learning outcomes 3, 4, 5 «br /»Course work consists of lab reports and scientific drawings which will be submitted each week. «br /»Course work submissions from week 3-10 will be each worth 10% of the final course mark. Submissions in week 1 and 2 will be used for formative feedback. To pass the course, exam and coursework have to be passed with a minimal pass mark of 40%.

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