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The Geography of Biodiversity

Course Code: GEOG 2230
Faculty: Humanities & Social Sciences
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture, Lab, Field Experience
Typically Offered: Fall
course overview

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
  7. Contemporary Patterns and Processes
    • Conservation biogeography
    • Disturbance
    • Human impacts on the distribution of life

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 

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%

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.

course prerequisites

GEOG 1110 (GEOG 1120 recommended but not required)

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.