Plant Ecology 100 Hours Certificate Course
What qualification will I have on completing this course?
Upon completeting all assignments and final Exam or Project for this course, you will be awarded a Level 4 Certificate in Plant Ecology.
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Plant Ecology 100 Hours Certificate Course
Plant Ecology course online. Home Study - Plant Ecology. Understand plants and apply your knowledge practically! Acquire a deeper understanding on the principles of plant ecology, why plants are the way they are, their relationships to other plants and living beings, how they developed in evolution and which factors determine their growth and survival. Apply that understanding to horticulture and the cultivation of plants, develop a new view on the plant world.
Learning Goals: Plant Ecology BSC302
- Define the term ecosystem
- Explain the importance of plants as energy producers within ecosystems
- Explain basic ecological principles
- Define the terms open and closed plant communities, semi-natural vegetation, dominant species, climax association.
- Describe the effects of plant association and competition on the succession of plants
- Describe how plant communities respond to environmental stresses.
- Explain how the development, structure and function of an organism depends on the interaction of that organism with its environment
- Describe the effects of a range of abiotic environmental factors on plant growth and development
- Explain the importance of monitoring abiotic environmental factors
- Describe plant modifications to withstand extreme environmental conditions
- Describe the weather and climate in a particular region.
- Relate plant distribution, growth and natural selection to soil, geography, weather and climate.
- State how soil, geography, weather and climate affect the horticulturists' selection of plants for any specific growing location.
- Evaluate the use of meteorological records in relation to plant growth and development
- Define the terms xerophyte, hydrophyte and halophyte
- Describe the structure and function of xerophytes, hydrophytes and halophytes
- Describe how xerophytes, hydrophytes and halophytes can be utilised in garden or landscape situations
- Describe the significance of xeromorphy in temperate zone plants and its importance in the garden or landscape situation.
- Evaluate the methods by which environmental conditions can be manipulated to improve the growth and development of plants
- State the factors affecting the choice of plants for garden or landscape sites with extreme conditions
- Assess the value of using protective structures to grow plant
- Describe the sources and nature of pollutants and possible effects on plants
- Describe how the environment may be affected by a range of horticultural practices
- Explain how planning, environmental assessment and impact analysis may contribute to the conservation process
- State the major sources of grant aide available to support environmental conservation on horticultural sites
- Review the role of national and international organisations in the conservation of plants and gardens.
- Understand the nature and principles of plant ecology and apply that understanding to the cultivation of plants.
Lesson Structure: Plant Ecology BSC302
There are 8 Lessons:
1 Introductory Ecology
- Definitions for ecology, ecosystems
- Constituents of an ecosystem
- Ecological concepts
- Interrelationships between climate, soil and living things (consumers, decomposers)
- The food web
- Habitat and niche
2 Plant Communities
- Open and closed plant communities
- Habitat types
- Location and characteristics of biomes
- Semi natural vegetation
- Succession of plant communities
- Community stability and equilibrium
- Environmental stress
- Edge effectsTerminology
3 Plants and their Environment
- Development, structure and function
- Plant modifications: functional adaptions
- Environmental factors: light, temperature, fires, wind
- Monitoring abiotic factors
- Introduction to Environmental assessment
- Pre purchase inspection of a site
- Background data
- Flora and fauna surveys
- Open space management plans
- Compliance with lisencing conditions
- Detection of pollutants
- Use of plants
- Remediation of a polluted site
4 Plants, Soils & Climate
- Natural conditions andplants distribution
- Climate classification
- Examples: climate in the UK, climate in Australia
- Meteorological data
- Plant distribution
- Geographic location
- Effective rainfall
- Circulation features
- The walker circulation
- Southern oscillation
- El nino
- La Nina
- GAIA theory
- Carbon dioxide cycle
- Wind descriptions
- Soil problems
- Soil structure decline and soil compaction
- Soil acidification
- Build up of dangerous chemicals
5 Plant Adaptations to Extreme Environments
- Ecological groups of plants: hydrophyte, xerophyte, mesophyte, halophyte
- Common environmental problems when growing plants: foliage burn, pollution, lack of water, frost, shade, humidity, temperature, wind, etc
- Desert landscapes
- Coastal gardens
- Water plant environments
- Greenhouse plants
6 Manipulating Plant Environments
- Controlling environmental conditions
- Tolerance levels for different plants
- Matching plants with their environment
- Managing light
- Managing water
- Protective structures
- Tree guards
7 Environmental Conservation
- Water pollution
- Soil pollution
- Atmospheric pollution
- Effects of horticulture
- Deforestation problemsLoss of agricultural land
- Loss of biodiversity
- Environmental weeds
- The greenhouse effect
- Other environmental problems affecting plant communities
- Greenhouse gases
- Ozone depletion
- Introduction to recycling
8 Environmental Organisations, Assessment and Funding
- Plant conservation
- Conservation of individual species
- Conservation organisations
- Conservation funding
Excerpt From The Course
Plant distribution is greatly dependant on local natural conditions. In different regions land plants face different problems. In some regions they are subject to periodic frost, drought, flood, heat or other extreme weather condition. A combination of these conditions defines plants’ distribution. Climate and weather depends on distribution of heat from the sun and its transport by winds and Ocean currents, seasonality of the heat distribution, and the rainfall pattern for the region. The same factors influence selection of plants to grow in horticulture sites, especially if resources for environmental factors management are limited (i.e. big open sites). Selection of right plants for the local environmental conditions greatly reduces maintenance costs.
Geographical longitude and latitude, mountains attitude and orientation affect sunlight patterns, seasonality, and climate and weather of any particular location. In very general terms, the farther place is from the equator the lower is the average annual temperature, the shorter are winter days and the longer are summer days. Average annual temperature is also decreasing with altitude that leads to forming relatively similar communities in Arctic tundra and Alpine tundra.
Large areas with different conditions can serve as impenetrable borders for plants and other biological species. Over period of time these borders such as oceans, mountains, deserts etc. isolate plant populations from each other and cause difference in species composition between plant communities in similar isolated habitats. People can overcome this limitation and introduce plants from overseas into localities with suitable environmental conditions. A couple of spectacular examples of successful usage of overseas plants in new locations is culture of Coffee tree, African plant, in South America, and Cocoa, South American plant, in Africa.
There are four major points to consider regarding rainfall. These are:
- Distribution - This refers to when the rain falls. An inch (25mm) of rainfall in a normally moist site during winter conditions will not have the same significance as the same amount falling in a normally drier site, or in summer.
- Variability - Some areas have very consistent rainfall, others do not. Two sites may have the same average annual rainfall, but there may be quite different variation around that average at each site. For example, each site may have an average annual rainfall of 1000mm (40 inch) but one may vary between 250 and 2000mm from year to year, while the other may only vary between 750 and 1300mm from year to year.
- Frequency - This is a measure of how often it rains, and can be important in determining the size of water storages. For example where there is a large interval between periods of rain then water storages (e.g. farm tanks) will have to be larger than for sites where rain falls frequently.
- Intensity - This is the total annual rainfall divided by the number of wet days (days exceeding 0.2mm of rain). This is very important in terms of run off. In areas of high intensity rainfall run-off is generally high, and consequently the % of water infiltrating into the soil is low in comparison to areas with low intensity rainfall. Erosion can be a major problem in high intensity rainfall areas, while getting sufficient run off to boost water storages can be a problem in low intensity areas.
Generally, in Australia, southern areas such as Southern Victoria and South-West Western Australia have low intensity, with intensity much higher along the eastern coastline, and in particular the northern part of the continent.
Evaporation is the loss of water as water vapour. It is part of the cycling of water process (see Water Cycle diagram below) It increases as temperatures increase, humidity drops and winds increase. It can be measured by determining the amount of water evaporated from a free water surface exposed in a pan. In countries, such as Australia, where surface water storage is extremely important for agricultural purposes, evaporation is very significant. As with other climatic data maps or tables of evaporation data are generally readily available.
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