Curriculum Guideline

The Geography of Biodiversity

Effective Date:
Course Code
GEOG 2230
The Geography of Biodiversity
Geography and the Environment
Humanities & Social Sciences
Start Date
End Term
Not Specified
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
Lecture 2 hrs. per week Lab 2 hrs. per week
Method Of Instruction
Field Experience
Methods Of Instruction

This course will employ a variety of instructional methods to accomplish its objectives, including some of the following:

  • Lecture
  • Labs
  • Field Work
  • DVDs/Digital Media
  • Individual and/or Team Projects
  • Small Group Discussions
  • Analysis of Maps, Air Photos and Satellite Imagery 


Course Description
How have so many different living organisms developed? What factors limit their growth and geographic spread? How is human activity affecting biodiversity locally and globally? Biogeography examines the geographic distribution of plants and animals and the causes of these patterns. It focuses on the physical and biological factors that control species, community and ecosystem distribution and development over space and over time. A variety of climatic, tectonic, soil, biological and anthropogenic controls on patterns of life are examined. A Saturday field trip to a local estuary introduces biophysical sampling techniques and measurements, and provides data for laboratory assignments.
Course Content


  1. Introduction
    • Spatial concepts in Geography and Biogeography
    • The Science of Biogeography
    • Taxonomic, ecological and trophic hierarchies
  2. Organization of Life
    • Populations, communities, ecosystems and biomes
    • Vegetation structure and formations
    • Realms, regions and provinces
  3. The Physical Environment and the Distribution of Life
    • Patterns and influences of solar radiation, temperature, moisture and soil
    • Interacting physical controls on geographic distributions
  4. Biological Interactions and the Distribution of Life
    • Predation competition, symbiosis
    • Combined physical and biological controls on geographic distribution
    • Environmental gradients and niches
  5. Temporal/Historical Influences on the Distribution of Life
    • Plate tectonics and continental drift
    • Past and future climate change
    • Dispersal, colonization and invasion
    • Evolution, speciation and extinction
  6. Description and Interpretation of Biogeographic Distributions
  • Geographic range
  • Mapping biogeographic distributions
  • Endemism, provincialism and disjunction
  • Reconstructing biogeographic histories
  • Contemporary Patterns and Processes
    • Conservation biogeography
    • Disturbance
    • Human impacts on the distribution of life


    Learning Outcomes

    At the conclusion of the course the student will be able to:

    1. Describe and use the frameworks of science applicable to 2nd-year physical geography.
    2. Think critically and examine biogeographical concepts and issues at population, community, ecosystem and biome levels.
    3. Describe and explain the major biotic and abiotic influences on organism growth and distribution in terrestrial, marine and freshwater environments.
    4. Communicate effectively using the language, graphical presentation methods and quantitative methods employed in physical geography.
    5. Connect theoretical applications to “real-world” observations and measurements.
    Means of Assessment

    The evaluation will be based on course objectives and will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College student evaluation policy. The instructor will provide a written course outline with specific evaluation criteria during the first week of classes.

    An example of an evaluation scheme would be:

    Labs  30%
    Field Trip Report  10%
    Project  20%
    Midterm Exam  20%
    Final Exam  20%
    Total 100%
    Textbook Materials

    Texts will be updated periodically. A typical example of a text would be:

    • Cox, C.B. and Moore, P.D. (2010). Biogeography: An Ecological and Evolutionary Approach, (8th Ed.). New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.,  New York.
    • Ganderton, P. and Coker, P. (2005). Environmental Biogeography. Pearson Education Ltd., Harlow.
    • MacDonald, Glen. (2003). Biogeography: Introduction to Space, Time and Life. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., New York.




    GEOG 1110 (GEOG 1120 recommended but not required)