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2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

BLGY3122 Social Insect Biology

10 creditsClass Size: 126

Module manager: Dr Elizabeth Duncan
Email: E.J.Duncan@leeds.ac.uk

Taught: Semester 1 View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

Pre-requisites

BLGY2222Animal Behaviour
BLGY2223Organismal Evolution

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Objectives

On completion of this module, students should:
- have a good understanding of the major aspects of social insect biology, including kin selection, symbioses and the organisation of work;
- appreciate the ecological and economic significance of social insects;
- be able to demonstrate, using social insects as examples, the mechanisms that drive the evolution of sociality and the conflicts underlying social groups;
- be able to use social insects as models for understanding a range of important concepts in behavioural ecology and evolutionary biology.

Learning outcomes
The module will provide students with:

- an understanding of the major aspects of social insect biology, including kin selection, symbioses and the organisation of work, and an appreciation of the ecological and economic significance of social insects;
- an ability to demonstrate, using social insects as examples, the mechanisms that drive the evolution of sociality and the conflicts underlying social groups;
- an understanding of the value of social insects as models for understanding a range of important concepts in behavioural ecology and evolutionary biology;
- the ability to critically read and evaluate the primary literature in social insect biology;
- the ability to synthesise information from the primary literature regarding social insect biology and communicate that information clearly and concisely.

Skills outcomes
Students can expect to:
- build on their ability to think about aspects of science critically
- practise and improve upon literature searching and reviewing
- hear how evolutionary theory can be implemented in research
- learn how evolutionary aspects of biology can be applied in industry


Syllabus

Social insects are one of the most successful groups of organisms. They include dominant herbivores, keystone predators and ecosystem engineers. In areas of the tropics the total biomass of ants alone outweighs that of all land vertebrates by four times.

They include some of the most ecologically damaging invasive species, pests that cause billions of pounds of economic damage and more benign species that are indirectly responsible for much of the food on our table. They are also one of the outstanding groups for studying subjects as diverse as symbioses and phenotypic plasticity, as well as being one of the pinnacles of social evolution.

This module will provide students with a firm understanding of the major aspects of social insect biology and the insights social insects can provide into general problems in behaviour, ecology and evolution.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Lecture121.0012.00
Private study hours88.00
Total Contact hours12.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

- 5 hours of reading/writing for in-course assignment.
- 83 hours additional reading during module and prior to exam.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

- Feedback on report based on 'News and Views' article from a current published research paper.
- The final exam consists of 3 compulsory short answer questions (worth 20% each) and one long answer (worth 40%), and is designed to test student knowledge of broader concepts of the course.

Methods of assessment


Coursework
Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
ReportReport in the format of ‘News and Views’ article based on a current published research paper (1,000 words)20.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)20.00

Report in the format of ‘News and Views’ article based on a current published research paper (1,000 words).


Exams
Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)2 hr 00 mins80.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)80.00

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: 20/09/2019

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