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2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

BLGY2253 Animals as Pests

10 creditsClass Size: 65

Module manager: Professor R Elwyn Isaac

Taught: Semester 2 View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

Pre-requisite qualifications

A level Biology

Module replaces

BLGY2252 Applied Biology

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module covers the applied biology of animals as pests, primarily in the UK context. Practical and field course exercises are an important part of this module and are directly linked to the lecture course.


The main objective is to provide an in depth understanding of the biology of animals as pests of crops and their impact on the availability and quality of food.

Learning outcomes
By the end of this course, you should understand and be aware of:
1. The variety of plant pests that exist, using the specific examples of nematodes, aphids, vertebrate pests;
2. Animal-plant interactions, e.g.the impact of animals as vectors of plant disease;
3. The use of chemical control agents; what they are used for and how they act, as exemplified by the use of insecticides in control;
4. Practical experience in monitoring pest populations in the field;
5. Practical experience in identifying nematodes and other invertebrate pests;
6. Practical experience in understanding the mode of action of pesticides.

Skills outcomes
The student will understand how animals become major pest species, their impact and how to implement control management strategies. They will acquire sort-after skills of sampling for invertebrate pests in an agricultural environment, identification of the pests, appreciation of their biology and how this knowledge can be applied to controlling the pest with chemical and biological pesticides. These skills are sought after by industry and government organisations.


Introduction to nematology: pathogenicity and control. Direct & indirect losses; current needs in the developing world. Morphology & taxonomy; the major groups: tylenchida/rhabdita/dorylaimida
Cyst Nematodes I: Ecological classifications. Cyst-Nematodes; Heterodera and Globodera. Life cycles. Cyst identification. The ecological significance of cysts; hatching;effects on hosts. Population dynamics & integrated control of cyst-nematodes.Population sampling; Economic thresholds; Statutory sampling and population management. Effects of population changes and the rotational basis of control
PCN I: Potato-Cyst Nematode (PCN): Globodera rostochiensis & Globodera pallida. Distribution, dispersal, host range, economic effects, Damage to plants. Control through legislation, hygiene, rotation and chemical means. Potato-Cyst Nematode (PCN) :2: The use of resistant cultivars. Advantages and disadvantages. Breeding History: different pathotypes of PCN. Resistance genes and the Gene for Gene Hypothesis.Practical significance of resistance and tolerance. The future and integrated control
Heterodera spp,: Heterodera Cyst nematodes: Heterodera schachtii (Beet-cyst Nematode),Heterodera avenae (Cereal-Cyst Nematode) and Heterodera glycines (Soybean cyst nematode)
Root-Knot Nematodes: Meloidogyne spp (Root-Knot Nematodes). Biology, including the life cycle and the growth and differentiation of giant cells. Identification of the major species and races, and the economic status of these spp.
Nematode pests of world agriculture. Cash crops eg Meloidogyne & tobacco; citrus nematodes. Subsistence cropping e.g. nematode pests of rice. Ditylenchus dipsaci: Biology and distribution; races, population dynamics and pest status in field crops and horticultural crops. Control using nematicides, rotation and the Plant Health Inspectorate
Major insect pests in the U.K.: Introduction to the insects as UK pests of agriculture and horticulture.
Aphid polymorphism and life cycles: Aphid morphs as specialists in defence, dispersal, reproduction, survival and defence. Morph determination. Host alternation; example life cycles of autoecious and heteroecious aphids; holocyclic and anholocyclic life cycles.
Aphid migration and host finding: Aphid flight patterns and colonisation abilities; how aphids detect and their host plants; monitoring of aphid populations
Aphids as virus vectors: Relative importance of direct damage and disease transmission; host plant selection; methods of transmission
Case history of major pest problem and its management I: A case study of sugar beet and its pest complex and the impact of this crop on the environment. Sugar beet is an important spring sown crop in the UK, grown on approximately 150,000 hectares, mainly in the East of England and the West Midlands.
Vertebrate Pests: Two lectures on vertebrate pests by Professor Tony Hardy, CSL, York) using case histories to illustrate the nature of indigenous and introduced pest species and their successful management.
Management of invertebrate pests: Society's need of pesticides. Are they over used? Are pesticides dangerous? The principles of selective toxicity. Do they upset the balance of nature?

Mode of action of insecticides and nematicides: The use and mode of action of current chemical control agents- organochlorine, organophosphate, carbamate and pyrethroid insecticides (OPs)- and the environmental problems associated with their use.

New and safer chemical control strategies including transgenic crops: The development of 3rd generation pesticides that are highly selective towards animal pests, including chemicals that target the endocrine control of insect development, insect-specific viruses, bacterial and spider venom toxins, biological control and integrated pest management.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Class tests, exams and assessment21.002.00
Private study hours68.00
Total Contact hours32.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Attendance at practicals and fieldwork session.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Practical ReportPractical reports x 330.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)30.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)2 hr 00 mins70.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)70.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/09/2019


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