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This module introduces students to the fundamental principles and techniques of basic field ecology in the context of the modern East African Lake Turkana environment. The course includes a mixture of fieldwork, lectures, seminars and readings. Students will identify common invasive and endemic plant species near the Turkana Basin Institute (TBI) at Turkwel as well as recognizing important evolutionary and ecological patterns and issues. Fieldwork will focus on plants and insects and generate useful baseline data for longer term studies. Students will be introduced to basic ecological monitoring methods for plant and insect communities (incl. transects, quadrants and live capture), and will gain an understanding of community dynamics and restoration ecology. Insect fieldwork will focus on survival in drylands and is linked to topics such as mutualism and phenology. We will be looking closely at adaptation to heat and aridity, but students will also be exposed to other habitats including nearby riverine forests and grasslands, as well as the rich freshwater and island systems of Lake Turkana.

The module will be intensive and divided into four broad areas:

  • General African Dryland and Grassland Ecology
  • Freshwater Ecology and Biodiversity of Lake Turkana
  • Life on the edge – coping with heat and drought stress