Breakdown of the Marks and Assignments
After the first week you will have seen the two contrasting methods for determining how humans came to invade the World. This is in essence represents the start for the need for Conservation Biology, since from our earliest ancestors we have been tampering with nature, modifying it to suit our purpose to the point where we "make weather" and have probably almost irreversibly changed our Global Climates.
The arrival of humans has caused the extinction of a multitude of species, we have changed the face of ecosystems so that they are unlikely to ever get back to what they were like in pre-human times. So ecosystems are on the brink of extinction such as the Cape Flats Sandplain Fynbos, and our Institution is pushing it even further with its proposed New Life Science building. So this Ape with Aptitude and Attitude has really shaken up "God’s World", but like the Pandora’s box, there are things disturbed that ought best to have been left alone.
Now there is a need to seek solutions to many of the problems that humans have wrought upon themselves. For me this is Conservation Biology, a pro-active study that attempts to restore or mitigate and even counteract the actions that humans have done to the earth’s ecosystems and its biodiversity. In seeking a "healing touch" there will be a scope for a huge amount of debate and possibly the most useful starting point is the use of the concept of the "Ecological Footprint". To put simply it is how much of the Earth’s land surface is required to support one human with its natural resources (energy, water, waste etc).
Obviously societies with higher standards of living will have larger footprints, and the world’s poorest societies the smallest. Calculated using national profiles, we can observe that the USA has easily the largest footprint, and while estimates vary it has been calculated that the USA today with 5% of the world’s population uses almost 25% of the world’s energy.
In this course as we go through many facets of conservation biology - I would like to take a temporal - spatial analysis of the ecological foot print from humanities very beginnings. You will be expected to be virtual travelers in time and species and attempt to analysis our proverbial foot prints and to debate what might have been prevented or its impact reduced had our forefathers had more foresight. Consequently 40% of the assessment will involve your contributions and comments to this Weblog. At the end of the course I am expecting about 10 000 words of contribution during your journey.
Since we are all training to improve our scientific skills it will be necessary for you to support your contributions on the Weblog with factual information and interpretation with an emphasis on using "Peer-reviewed" scientific material. Please treat contributions put onto the Blog as semi-formal, in other words, statements need to defended with references done in wiki style (in the text) and prepared as list using the CSE style. Text should be checked for spelling, punctuation and grammar and in this regard formal conventions apply. Avoid long sentences and the passive voice, and third person writing (pedantic and old fashioned), verbosity and repetition. Do not attempt to "pad" or use "bs" in your contributions. If you genuinely do not understand a concept, rather include this as a direct question in the hope that somebody will pick this up and comment on it and provide some explanation. Attempt to avoid significant omissions and errors of commission.
These deals with the formality, you should feel free to extend your vocabulary with new words, so write creatively and in an engaged style, consequently elements of humor may be used e.g. a title could be "The big kill or the big chill?" for the demise of large mammals in Europe, Asia and the Americas. Your audience should generally be university students and blog articles written in a magazine style. It is not necessary to write in a really tight, direct scientific style. Attempt to keep your contributions within normal readability limits and reduce the amount of "fog". Using the "Flesch Reading Ease" as a guide you should aim to score above 40. All my instructions are screened to be above 40 and generally are around 50 using this index. A very useful resource to test your text can be found here.
Since I am mandated by both UWC and CSIR to develop curriculum within Education 2.0 and to actively promote Education 3.0 pedagogy’s, there is a need to work in collaboration use a progressive learning inquiry by working with your classmates. Remember the use the blog is for discussion and not just the posting of your final assignments, so please read other peoples contributions. The Wiki and our Photo Album are also to be useful resources for developing articles and their use is to be encouraged. Finally also look at your layout, ensure you use bullet lists, headings, subheadings to make the page layout more easily read with about 20% white space. Avoid using underlining (it makes it look like a link) and use italics for species names and titles of books. All direct quotes should be put into quotes and I would prefer that they are also put between the < quote > tags so it is quick for us to see what is your own work and that quoted.
Allocation of Marks
- 40% general commentary (blog, wiki etc)
- Assignment 1: Me Adam Y, you Eve X: 10%
- Assignment 2: YouTube Your View on Fragmentation: 10%
- Assignment 3: Some species are more equal than others: 10%
- Assignment 4: Deathmatch Wikipedia versus Citizendium: 10%
Brief summary of each assignment
A start on all assignments should have been made within the first two weeks, as there is need to get reliable references and to think over the assignments and include new information progressively. Careful planning and to develop a strategy are key to your successful engagement with the topics.
Assignment 1: Me Adam Y, you Eve X
Debate on the spread of modern humans out of Africa. Two models are proposed: "Mitochondrial Eve" and "Y chromosomal Adam", based on different molecular approaches and providing a rather different reconstruction for the invasion, especially relating to when places where colonized.
Integration of time and space parameters in analyzing the impacts of humans on their natural world. What would have happen if this ape had remained in its African homeland? It will also introduce the use of making OGC maps for insertion in your Weblog.
You need to identify a journey that for both Eve and Adam made in populating the world (1-2 OGC maps). Along the journey you need to define when they left and arrived and what environment they witnessed. By environment , I mean the nature of the biome, its biodiversity and climate (glacial state). You will need to analysis how different that environment was to that occurring today. More information on the OGC maps can be found here. For each map provide a comprehensive caption below using the < Fig > tabs and a Figure Number that is bolded.
Notional Hours = 15
Assignment 2: YouTube YourView on Fragmentation
Modern development is ever increasing the amount of habitat loss in terms of both total area and compromising of its spatial arrangement. The fragmentation into increasingly smaller patches of natural habitat is a serious conservation issue that David Attenborough referred to as islandization in his "State of the Planet" film series. In the greater Cape Town area, the world’s greatest plant species extinction rates is being witnessed mostly through habitat loss and fragmentation. As a consequence the Cape Town area, together with Western Australia have the rarest ecosystems on the planet.
Learn to make an interview and present/share your thoughts to the rest of the world through a short video about this issue.
In BriefUsing a cell phone or inexpensive digital camera, you will need to record yourself discussing an issue relating to loss of habitat. If possible do this on site or with the use of maps if not on site. If you have no experience of the Cape Town environs, substitute an area you know and possibly get a friend to do the talking on site using your script that you sent him or her! Attempt to make this appealing for your average YouTube. You can use an informal style for your presentation, but writing should remain formal with attention to capitalization, punctuation etc. Possibly make some boards with keywords to flash up to the camera, since we do not have any video editing facilities. The presentation should be between 3 and 5 minutes in length. A very short (maximum 200 word description) should be provided with the video and uploaded to YouTube (you will need to make an account). Using the embedded code from YouTube now insert your video into a blog page on our http://connected.uwc.ac.za
site and provide an extended text (500 -700 words). Please do not spend too much time on this, especially background research, lets get them up and start the discussions.
Notional Hours: 6
Assignment 3: Some species are more equal than others, making a case for the rares
Where are the world’s most rare organisms? How well are they being conserved? What are the major socio-economic issues that may impact on these species? How do you get the message across to the person on the street about these issues?
Develop Cartograms to present spatial information.
In BriefCartograms are "value by area" maps and have become popular to represent especially global issues such as HIV/Aids poverty etc.In the News & Opinion section of the Sunday Times (South Africa) dated March 04 2007 there is an article entitled "The World as you’ve never seen it". This article deals with representation of how different countries of the world are performing with respect to Wealth, HIV Prevalence, War Deaths and Violent Deaths and was originally produced at the University of Sheffield on their website http://www.worldmapper.org. These Cartograms have been developed to more accurately reflect spatial information.
In this exercise you will construct two types of cartograms, the continuous and the discontinuous representations. Once you have prepared your cartograms provide a brief introduction explaining what data you used and why. The prepare the six images complete with a full caption and finally a short (500 word max discussion of the results) discussing whether the cartograms were useful for you particular data and which was the better representation continuous versus discontinuous etc.
Notional Hours: 10
Assignment 4: Deathmatch Wikipedia versus Citizendium
The Wiki has come to be strongly associated with Wikipedia. Wiki literally is the Hawaiian for quick and refers to a fast method of authoring content, especially encyclopedia type content. Wikipedia, is the number one choice when students are given assignments, or when lecturers start preparing their next lecture. This is despite Wikipedia’s own disclaimer that reads…
IMPORTANT NOTE:Most educators and professionals do not consider it appropriate to use tertiary sources such as encyclopedias as a sole source for any information — citing an encyclopedia as an important reference in footnotes or bibliographies may result in censure or a failing grade. Wikipedia articles should be used for background information, as a reference for correct terminology and search terms, and as a starting point for further research.
As with any community-built reference, there is a possibility for error in Wikipedia’s content — please check your facts against multiple sources and read our disclaimers for more information.
You will prepare either an article for Wikipedia or Citizendium on any aspect of Conservation Biology (e.g. systematic conservation planning). Your article should be initially fairly short about 1000 to 1200 words with five links to stub articles. A stub article should be about 100 words and need not be new.
Wikipedia has many critics who cite incorrect factual information and vandalism as widespread, mostly based on some high profile errors associated with Wikipedia articles. Personally, I have found relatively little to complain about and according to a recent survey by Nature it was only slightly less accurrate than Encyclopedia Britannica articles. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v438/n7070/full/438900a.html. Nevertheless one of the original Wikipedia developers Larry Sanger has launched Citizendium www.citizendium.org  to improve quality/accuracy of open Encyclopedias and thereby initiated the battle of the Wikis.
Your article can relate to any area of conservation biology that interests you, and in an area where there is no Wikipedia articles or only a stub. Please provide evidence that your article is a gap in the Wikipedia knowledge base. You can find gaps by using search words in Wikipedia or actually following links in various Wiki articles to find a stub or a new article creation page. Your stubs need not be any thing new. Please note that UWC has been listed for abuse on Wikipedia so you actually cannot submit or modify articles and therefore we have our own Wiki site - see Navigation Bar at the top. There are instruction on the use of the Wiki at http://connected.uwc.ac.za/blog/index.php?/wiki/Wiki%3A-Introduction/ this will get you started with the Wiki syntax.
Notional Hours: 14