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Conservation Biology

Course Code: BIOL 4305
Faculty: Science & Technology
Department: Biology
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture, Tutorial
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

This course will introduce students to the theory, issues and complexities inherent in biological conservation work. Students will be required to work in groups to research a current conservation issue, prepare and lead class activities, and individually submit a final research project based on a current conservation issue. Lectures will be used to clarify conservation theory and to place the subject matter within the context of broader society. Students will be evaluated by both peers and the instructor on the quality of their in-class activities and evaluated by the instructor on their final research project.

Course Content

1. History of conservation biology, including a review of the scientific method

2. Fundamentals of conservation – focus will be on reviewing concepts pertinent to conservation biology that were introduced in the prerequisite courses

a. Genetic bottlenecks

b. Mutation, speciation and extinction rates

c. Ecology of small populations

d. Metapopulations

e. Landscape ecology

f. Trophic levels, bioaccumulation and food webs

g. Nutrient cycling

h. Invasion biology

3. Biodiversity

a. Patterns of biodiversity at different ecological scales (i.e. genetic, species, ecosystem, biome)

b. Value of biodiversity

c. Measuring biodiversity

4. Problems and threats

a. Loss of diversity

b. Habitat loss/fragmentation

c. Pollution

d. Climate change

e. Exploitation and invasive species

5. Solutions

a. Genetic- and species-level

i. Species-at-Risk assessment and legislation

ii. In situ vs. ex situ conservation

b. Community- and ecosystem-level

i. Protected areas

ii. Conservation outside protected areas

iii. Restoration ecology

6. Human impacts on conservation.  Topics may include:

a. Conservation efforts by hunting and fishing groups

b. Citizen science

c. Conservation on private land

d. Variation in legislation among governmental units (within and among countries)

e. The tragedy of the commons (possibly as it pertains to international waters or another global resource)

f. Ascribing economic value to biodiversity

g. Impact of conservation measures on non-target species

7. Further special topics will be covered in student-led discussions and/or guest lectures

Methods of Instruction

This course involves three hours of lectures and/or in-class exercises and one hour of tutorial or student-led seminar per week.  Both aspects may integrate active learning, and discussion of primary literature and current events.

Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy. The instructor will present a written course outline with specific evaluation criteria at the beginning of the semester. Evaluation will be based on the following:

Evaluation Marks
Seminar 10-20
Participation 5-10
Midterm examination          15-25
Final examination 15-25
Final project 25-35

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course the successful student will be able to:  

  1. Place the current study of conservation biology within a historical and scientific context.

  2. Apply ecological, evolutionary and genetic theory to specific problems in conservation biology.

  3. Evaluate the relationship between humans and biodiversity.

  4. Identify the means by which species’ declines can be detected, diagnosed, and remedied.

  5. Identify the means by which community and ecosystem declines can be detected, diagnosed and remedied.

  6. Recognize and appreciate some of the controversial issues in biological conservation.

  7. Recognize the practical and economic limitations of implementing management actions to conserve species and habitats.

  8. Evaluate current issues related to conservation during class discussions and in formal presentations.

course prerequisites

BIOL 3305 or permission of the instructor.





curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.