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Ecology and Biodiversity

In studying Ecology and Biodiversity you’ll learn about the distribution, abundance, and biology of organisms and their role in New Zealand’s most important ecosystems.

Ecology and Biodiversity

The University of Waikato has a particularly strong reputation for our research program in lake and river ecology and restoration, taking advantage of our close proximity to the Rotorua Lakes District, the Waikato River, and peat lakes and wetlands within the Waikato Region. Other areas of research include estuarine and coastal marine biology, urban ecology, Antarctic terrestrial ecology, and agricultural sustainability and productivity.

Our location provides quick access to coastal marine research, and the University maintains a coastal marine field station in nearby Tauranga.  Our location also gives ready access to a broad range of terrestrial environments, including pastoral agriculture and lowland to montane forests.

You’ll gain knowledge of ecological and biological theory, and the practical skills for field identification, surveying, and experimentation with plants, animals and microbes across a broad range of ecosystems. You’ll gain understanding of the principles of biological classification and be able to name and classify common organisms found in New Zealand ecosystems.

Your skills will be gained through a combination of hands on laboratory experience, practical field courses, and teaching from leading ecologists and biologists.


We have extensive laboratory facilities, including

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Key information

Study Locations: Hamilton

Career opportunities

  • Biodiversity Management
  • Biodiversity Advisor
  • Biodiversity Surveyor
  • Biosecurity and Customs Officer
  • Conservation Ranger
  • Policy Analyst
  • Research Associate
  • Laboratory Technician
  • Resource Manager
  • Resource Planner
  • Weed Management Advisor
  • Pest Management Advisor
  • Field Researcher
  • Technical Officer
  • Ecological Consultant
  • Ecologist
  • Environmental Scientist
  • Agricultural Scientist
  • Agricultural Technician
  • Museum Collections Technician
  • Museum Curator
  • Taxonomist
  • Land Management Officer
  • Zoo Keeper

Prescriptions for the PGCert(Eco&Biod), PGDip(Eco&Biod), BSc(Hons), MSc, MSc (Res) and MSc(Tech)

Students in masters degrees are normally required to take a thesis and a selection of papers. Enrolment in papers towards the BSc(Hons) is only by invitation of the Graduate Convenor. Candidates for these graduate qualifications should select their papers in consultation with the Graduate Convenor.

To complete a BSc(Hons) in Ecology and Biodiversity, students must complete 120 points at 500 level, including at least 60 points from the papers listed for Ecology and Biodiversity, of which at least 30 points must be in research (normally BIOL591).

100 Level

Code Paper Title Occurrence / Location
BIOEB101Concepts of Biology18A (Hamilton)
An introduction to the foundations of biology, including the structure and functioning of cells, evolution, the origins and diversity of life, and a tour of the major forms of life and their defining characteristics.
BIOEB102Introduction to Ecology and Biodiversity18B (Hamilton)
An introduction to the principles of ecology and biodiversity. Topics include population, community and ecosystem ecology, conservation biology, and the structure, functioning and environmental responses of animals and plants. Examples will include New Zealand ecosystems and biota.
CHEMY100Chemistry in Context18A (Hamilton)
This is an introductory paper for students with a limited background in chemistry. There is a strong emphasis on teaching chemical concepts through real-world examples relevant to different science and engineering disciplines.

200 Level

Code Paper Title Occurrence / Location
BIOEB201Principles of Evolution18A (Hamilton)
This paper examines the evolution and diversity of life. Topics include the history and philosophy of evolutionary thought, discussion of the mechanisms of evolution, present-day evidence of evolution in animal, plant and bacterial taxa; modern methods of analysing this evidence, and the evolutionary origins of current-day biodiver...
BIOEB202Principles of Ecology18B (Hamilton)
This paper covers the principles of ecology, including adaptation to the environment, intra- and inter-specific interactions, community and ecosystem dynamics, and biogeography. Weekend field trips and computer laboratory work are essential elements.
BIOEB203Animal Structure and Function18A (Hamilton) & 18A (Tauranga)
This paper is an integrated theoretical and experimental study of the principles of animal structure and function. Comparative aspects will be emphasised in how animals adapt to their environment. Topics covered include homeostasis, the function of major organ systems, ecophysiology, musculoskeletal design and locomotion. An introd...
BIOEB204Plant Structure and Function18B (Hamilton)
Plants are key regulators of ecosystem processes, and actively respond to and change their environments. This paper examines how plants have these effects by exploring plant structure, functioning, and adaptation to different environments. Laboratory work emphasises the handling and identification of common native plants.

500 Level

Code Paper Title Occurrence / Location
BIOL503Data Analysis and Experimental Design18A (Hamilton)
This paper will cover aspects of research design for experiments, and methods for analysis of biological data using univariate and multivariate statistical techniques.
BIOL560Freshwater Ecology18A (Hamilton)
A critical examination of issues that freshwater ecosystems face (e.g. pollution, conservation, utilisation) and methods to mitigate potentially competing interests.
BIOL561Aquatic Ecosystem Modelling18B (Hamilton)
This paper examines the different types of models that may be applicable in aquatic ecosystem modelling, including statistical, empirical, and process-based models. The key steps to setting up a model application are covered as well as the limitations and pitfalls of each type of model. Applications of the models are demonstrated f...
BIOL562Marine and Estuarine Ecology18C (Block)
This paper focuses on a variety of contemporary issues in marine ecology and biological oceanography, including fisheries biology and management, recruitment, ecology of disturbances, benthic-pelagic coupling, aquaculture and primary production.
BIOL564Restoration Ecology18B (Hamilton)
This paper focuses on aspects of the health, vitality, resilience and restoration of ecosystems. Topics covered include restoration principles, theory and practice, lake restoration, river and stream restoration, wetland restoration and forest restoration.
BIOL565Molecular Ecology18A (Hamilton)
This paper is open to students interested in molecular ecology, systematics, and environmental molecular biology. Topics covered include conservation and evolutionary genetics, molecular ecology, and phylogenetics.
BIOL570Plant Ecology18A (Hamilton)
Contemporary and advanced topics in plant ecology, including the structure and functioning of plant communities, species and community distribution theory, vegetation dynamics, vegetation surveying and data analysis.
BIOL571Plant Function18B (Hamilton)
The paper focuses on contemporary topics in plant environmental physiology, with an emphasis on the functioning of plants at the physiological, whole plant, and ecological level. Topics will include the acquisition of carbon and water by plants and limitations to plant productivity in natural and managed environments.
BIOL572Animal Behaviour18B (Hamilton)
The purpose of this paper is to provide students with an understanding of contemporary approaches to the study of animal behaviour, exploring literature on the function, evolutionary history, development and mechanisms of behaviour. Special attention will be devoted to developing an appreciation of experimental design and fostering...
BIOL573Conservation Biology18A (Hamilton)
The purpose of this paper is to explore the general principles of conservation biology, with special reference to threatened species, aquatic animals and plants.
BIOL574Mammalian Physiology18A (Hamilton)
This paper examines selected topics in the physiology of humans and other mammals. Students will develop an understanding of physiological control systems and the integration of mammalian structure and function.
BIOL575Applied Topics in Physiology18B (Hamilton)
This paper examines selected topics in the applied physiology of mammals, especially reproduction and lactation, in association with researchers in industry. Students will develop an understanding of the application of physiological knowledge and principles to commercial and medical technologies.
BIOL576Animal Ecophysiology18A (Hamilton)
This paper provides an introduction to specified topics in animal environmental physiology. Critical evaluation of selected readings from the scientific literature will provide a theoretical framework for the specified topics and an introduction to recent research in those fields. Students will develop an understanding of how anima...
BIOL577Aquatic Toxicology18B (Block)
This paper provides an introduction to specified topics in aquatic toxicology, including toxicology analysis and bioaccumulation. Critical evaluation of selected readings from the scientific literature will provide a theoretical framework for the specific topics and an introduction to recent research in those fields. Students will ...
BIOL581Microbial Ecology18A (Hamilton)
This paper covers molecular microbial ecology, stable isotopes in microbial ecology, metagenomics, biogeography, and other current topics in microbial ecology.
BIOL588Special Topic18A (Hamilton), 18B (Hamilton) & 18C (Hamilton)
Guided individual study on an aspect of biological sciences.
BIOL590Directed Study18D (Hamilton)
Students have the opportunity to pursue a topic of their own interest under the guidance of academic staff.
BIOL591Dissertation18C (Hamilton)
A report on the findings of a theoretical or empirical investigation.
BIOL592Dissertation18C (Hamilton)
A report on the findings of a theoretical or empirical investigation.
BIOL593Biological Sciences Thesis18C (Hamilton)
An externally examined piece of written work that reports on the findings of supervised research.
BIOL594Biological Sciences Thesis18C (Hamilton)
An externally examined piece of written work that reports on the findings of supervised research.
BIOL595Biological Sciences Thesis18C (Hamilton)
An externally examined piece of written work that reports on the findings of supervised research.
SCIE501Research Methods in the Sciences18B (Hamilton)
This paper will enable students to develop the necessary communication skills and familiarity with research methods and practice to allow them to progress to the thesis component of a masters degree in the sciences, or to extend communication and research skills in those not taking a full research degree.

New to Waikato? The International Excellence Scholarship is worth up to $10,000.

Brian Perry Charitable Trust Undergraduate Scholarship in Science & Engineering  Closed

For students who are enrolled in the second year of full-time study towards an undergraduate degree, in the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University of Waikato. The scholarship will have a value of up to $5,000.

Hamilton Zoo - University of Waikato Science & Engineering Scholarship  Closed

For students who are enrolled full-time and have completed the second year of the Bachelor of Science (Technology) degree. The scholarship will have a value of $14,000 and a one year placement with the Hamilton Zoo.

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Faculty of Science & Engineering

Phone: +64 7 838 4625 / 0800 438 254