The Dame Charmian O'Connor Faculty of Science - Leading creativity and innovation in the sciences

Conservation Ecology and Biosecurity


Students who take the Conservation Ecology and Biosecurity option will:

  • Gain a superior theoretical understanding of the principles of ecology as they apply in conservation
  • Learn the skills and knowledge needed to tackle conservation and biosecurity issues

Core papers


Conservation Ecology (BIOSCI 394)

This course considers the management and conservation of wild populations and ecosystems. Topics covered include population ecology, conservation genetics, marine conservation, freshwater conservation, forest conservation and management, biosecurity and threatened species management. Case studies from New Zealand and overseas are used extensively throughout the course.

This course is designed to illustrate the practical realities of applying ecological knowledge to conservation problems. A field trip to Wenderholm Regional Park introduces students to the ecology of sandy beaches and the opportunity to sample invertebrates and record key environmental data (e.g. litter, trampling by visitors). Students will also visit the Hunua Ranges to study the management of native and exotic forests. A laboratory exercise will allow students to conduct a Population Viability Analysis for kakapo management.


Terrestrial Ecology (BIOSCI 396)

In this course the front lines of experimental and theoretical population, community and whole ecosystem ecology are explored.

The latest research is included on topics such as ecosystem functioning, predator-prey theory, species co-existence, trophic interactions and decomposition, spatial dynamics and the importance of scale. We also profile two of the greatest ongoing debates in New Zealand ecology: the ‘beech gap’ and divaricating plants: moa or climate?

BIOSCI 396 students explore tree fern trunks as establishment sites for seedlings, and the effects of tree ferns on invertebrate diversity and ecosystem processes, such as litter decomposition and seedling recruitment. You will learn to set up seedling plots and identify seedlings, use litter traps, use litter bag techniques for comparing litter decomposition rates, sample and identify invertebrates, determine establishment success for tree species with different dispersal modes.


Ecological Restoration and Management (ENVSCI 311)

This course applies ecological principles to the restoration of ecosystems. Topics covered include principles of ecosystem and landscape management, project management, and the integration of ecosystem services into productive landscapes. Consideration is also taken of policy and planning for mainland and island restoration; the evaluation of pest and weed impacts; and the cultural, social and economic considerations of ecological restoration.

ENVSCI 311 students have two one-day field trips; to Tiritiri Matangi and to Woodhill Forest/Muriwai.


Employment opportunities


Completion of this option could lead to employment in private, governmental (national and local council), not-for-profit (national and international) or academic consulting, teaching, or service opportunities.

Specific areas include:

  • Employment through the Biosecurity sector (including MAF, Biosecurity New Zealand, local government, research consultancies, private pest control companies, non-governmental conservation organizations, Department of Conservation, Crown Research Institutes and the tertiary education sector)
  • Conservation management
  • Species conservation
  • Management of reserves
  • Ecological impact assessment
  • Invasive species surveillance
  • Pest control
  • Teaching primary and secondary level students, and
  • Research in conservation and biosecurity