Introduction to Ecology

The free online course in Introduction to Ecology provides detailed information about the different types of ecosystems, terrestrial and aquatic biomes, and the effects of climate change on biodiversity. 
The course first introduces you to the scope of ecology and biogeography with a focus on the distribution of plant and animal species and their impact on the terrestrial environment. You will learn how to differentiate between ecological patterns and processes at different scales and levels of biological organisation (population, community and ecosystem). Next, you will learn to identify and recognize the distinguishing characteristics of terrestrial and aquatic biomes. You will gain an understanding of what controls animal and plant distribution, abundance and biodiversity. You will learn how plants and animals absorb energy and nutrients from the ecosystem around them as well as how species interact with each other. You will learn about the biology of various habitats from marine and freshwater to terrestrial habitats and the soil. Finally, you are introduced to climate and the effects of global climate change where you will learn about the interaction between humans, animals and the environment with specific reference to the effects of modern technological advances. You will gain an understanding of the role ecology plays in conservation, wetland and natural resource management, forestry, agriculture and fisheries, as well as the climatological challenges faced by society. 
The course will be ideal for professionals working in the area of biology, ecology or environmental science, for students who wish to pursue a career in the sciences, or for those who simply want to learn more about building a sustainable existence on this planet. This course will also be of great interest to anyone who would like to learn more about ecological diversity and the distribution of organisms in the global ecosystem around them or those who are concerned about their impact on the environment. 
All Alison courses are free to study. To successfully complete a course you must score 80% or higher in each course assessments. Upon successful completion of a course, you can choose to make your achievement formal by purchasing an official Alison Diploma, Certificate or PDF. 
Having an official Alison document is a great way to celebrate and share your success. It is:
Ideal to include with CVs, job applications and portfolios
A way to show your ability to learn and achieve high results
Learning Outcome: 
After completing this course you will be able to:
  • Define ecology and the four levels of ecological research;
  • Recognize the relationship between components of the environment;
  • Recognize distinguishing characteristics of each of the major terrestrial biomes;
  • Compare and contrast the characteristics of the ocean zones;
  • Define global climate change;
  • Describe three natural factors affecting long-term global climate;
  • and list two or more greenhouse gases and describe their role in the greenhouse effect.
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