Internal Code: MAS903
This subject introduces students to ecosystem concepts and how to evaluate vegetation communities using the Regional Ecosystem framework. Students will become familiar with identification techniques, including the use of
interactive computer keys, classification and nomenclature or how plants are named. The evolution of land plants
particularly of the flowering plants will be discussed. The distinguishing features and spotting characters of plant
families particularly those common to tropical Australia will be introduced. Plant variation, adaptations and diversity, as well as speciation and speciation concepts will be discussed.
This subject is suitable for those who initially have only a limited botanical knowledge as terms will be explained as
they are introduced. Thus anyone who needs to be able to identify plants and describe vegetation communities for
any environmental purpose will benefit from this subject, whether in the tropics, subtropics or wherever.
This assignment will test how well you can access the appropriate literature. It should be well constructed and appropriate to the topic chosen. Between 2000 and 2500 words are required. Don’t forget to use Google Scholar – it is very useful for specific papers.
Choose ONE (1) of the following topics:
Speciation concepts – numerous references, try both Google and Google Scholar start with “plant speciation concepts”, ‘plant’ must be included because plant and animal concepts are not necessarily the same. Papers presented in the “Plant Speciation Symposium” issue of Taxon should be consulted. Taxon 59(5) October 2010. These papers will be available on LearnJCU or by request from the lecturer. Also worthwhile to read is the American Journal of Botany volume 101, issues 7 and 8, 2014 as well as any others you can locate.
Choose a plant family in a local area and discuss the variation that occurs between different species and genera (This will require you to collect some material). Either from observation or literature searches or both, speculate on the ecological adaptations enabling a number of species and genera to occupy a given area. What are the niche requirements of each species. As a starting point, Google “Cunninghamia” and search for Volume 3(4) Plants of the Sydney District, by Benson D. & McDougall L., this is the last paper in this issue, you could also look at Volume
4(4) etc. – this will give you some idea of the differences you may find between species/genera etc.
Discuss plant use by indigenous people in a particular region e.g., Cape York. Please submit an outline of your proposed essay for approval.
A topic of your choice, Title and outline must be submitted for approval.
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