MODULE 17 – Foundations of Ecology

17th-21st December 2018 (5 days) in N Thailand

Module Description:

Increasingly, around the world, people are disconnected from nature. Spiritually, many of us believe that this is harmful to our wellbeing, but what does science say about our connection to nature?

In this workshop we will explore the science of our connections to other organisms, of our own bodies as ecosystems, and how matter cycles through us, through the non living and the living world:

  • Food webs: Building a compost pile and exploring the ecological dynamics soil and decomposition l Nature exploration: Ecological relationships and community dynamics in a mountain forest
  • Healthy guts, healthy forests: Introduction to microbial biology and our own microbial ecosystems
  • Breathing: Carbon, nitrogen and our atmospheric systems


Learning Goal

To understand the abundance and diversity of natural environment

Learning Outcomes

         Participants will:

  1. appreciate of the nature and diversity of ecosystems
  2. be able to monitor biodiversity and ecological variables
  3. be able to conduct basic ecological studies and surveys


Learning Themes (schedule example for 2017)

DAY 1 Field notebooks and observations 

Basic record keeping

Biological illustration in the field

Weather measurements

The Water Cycle

DAY 2 Ecosystems and biomes 

Interactions within ecosystems

mutualism; competition; foraging;

negative feedback; transfers and transformations

Soil and Forest ecosystem explorations

DAY 3 Measuring variables in ecosystems 

Using our observations to answer questions about changes over time or space

types of questions that are useful to ask and how we would study them

example of a transect; example of a quadrat

DAY 4 Patterns in ecology; succession, zonation, evolution and adaptation 

Using the patterns we observe to help guide us to sustainable practices in growing or harvesting food

Maximum sustainable yield

DAY 5 Endangered and rare species 

Measuring population size

Identifying species

Environmental Value Systems


Recommended readings and websites:



Hand-outs/Powerpoints during Module:

Frazer, Jennifer. 2014. Natural History is Dying, and We Are All the Losers.