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ZOOLS20004: Australian Wildlife Biology

ZOOLS20004: Australian Wildlife Biology

University of Melbourne
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7 years ago

Mid-semester test worth 10%, two reports; one worth 15% and the other 10%, practical book/log book worth 15% and finally the end of semester exam worth 50%.

I chose to do this subject after doing Flora and Fauna during first year. This was partly revision of flora and fauna and also an extension to it, so it is advantageous if you do FF during first year before you do animal wildlife. Overall I really enjoyed this subject (content wise) but it is probably the last zoology/botany subject that I will do as I hear it ramps up a bit after this.


There are 24 lectures in total and a couple of films. All of them are fairly straightforward and not too difficult to understand. It isn’t content overload nor is it conceptually difficult.

The only lectures that were bad were; lecture 2 (Kimberly lecture), lecture 18 (rodents) … in these lectures it was pretty much information overload. A couple of inexperienced student/guest lecturers presented them and they were really not that good. The rodent lecturer just blabbered out heaps and heaps and heaps of rodents while the Kimberly lecturer kept going on about his trip to the Kimberly and what they did. Luckily, there wasn’t a single rodent or Kimberly question in the exam (yay) so I think Kathy realized that we suffered during these lectures. However, there was one MCQ in the mid-sem about the Kimberly although it was very straightforward.

The other lectures were amazing, if you are a FF student the first couple about reptiles and amphibians will bore you (as it is merely revision) but once you pass about lecture 9-10 it’s all an extension to FF. I personally loved the lectures based on ecophysiology (e.g. koalas, platypus), I LOVED everything about birds (from the different mating systems to why the white winged choughs steal babies for cooperative breeding), and my favorite lecture in the entire series was the macropod lecture where we got to learn about embryonic diapause and also the energy saving hopping motion kangaroos have which defies the laws of physics :D.

Ultimately, there is a fair bit of rote learning but if you find the subject as interesting as I did it should not be hard to rote it all.

Mid-semester test:

I received 8/10 and the average was about 7-7.5/10, so it was relatively straightforward. I got this shifty monophyletic/paraphyletic question wrong as well as this question about the history of birds or something (which we did not learn about!). I think it was there just to separate us. Apart from that some of the questions are seriously 5-second questions and the rest are not too bad if you have revised well. The first 12 lectures are tested in the mid-semester test.

Report 1:

You will have to do a report comparing the bird fauna diversity in The Royal Botanic Gardens and Studley Park. I did terribly – 9/15 RAW scaled to 10/15, so really I have nothing to say and no tips. The only comment is that this was HARD, after this report all my confidence for this subject went down the drain. The highest mark was 12/15 RAW iirc scaled to 13/15 (yeah she scaled all our reports by 1 mark because it was so harshly marked). I don’t know what I did wrong but maybe should have spent more time on it. Just know that THIS assessment is the hardest in the entire subject and this is the ‘’seperator’’ that will separate the best students from the rest.

Report 2:

After getting shattered by the first report I managed to get 8/10 for the second, which was much easier than the first. Rather than writing a full academic report all you have to do in this one is answer a couple of questions using data gathered in one of your practicals (black swan practical – swan census). Once you have all the data sorted out (there are heaps, make sure you are familiar with excel) the questions should all be a breeze. Despite this, I still managed to lose two marks, and once again I think this was because it was harshly marked. I lost one mark for not showing the male to female sex ratio in the ‘’correct notation’’ and another mark for making my graph scales too large, I mean, seriously?

Practical book:

This was our savior IMO, I got 15/15 for the practical book and so many other people did as well. I think a lot of people complained especially after the first report so Kathy was kind of entitled to mark them easily. Or maybe everyone just did really well!

So tips for smashing the practical book;
- Make sure you are UP TO DATE, after every workshop you will need to have annotated drawings of some of the animals you see and also attach a worksheet onto your prac folder. The questions in the worksheets are simple. As for the drawings, how good do they have to be? I’ll be serious now but I was crapping myself when I heard that we had to draw animals in this subject because I cannot draw. If I still had my prac book I would have probably uploaded some of the images but unfortunately Kathy still has my prac book. My birds look like triangles, my seals look like large bananas and I somehow managed to make cute penguins look like ugly monsters. Point is, you do not have to be an artist to get full marks in the prac book. I am the worst drawer ever and I still got 15/15. As long as it kind of looks like the animal you should be fine.
- The annotations of the drawing are very important. Make sure you indicate several physical features of the animal and functions of those features, common name, scientific name, make the drawing big. Underneath the drawing I would have about 5-6 dot points about some facts about the animal, habitat, what it was doing (behavior), interactions with other animals, etc.
- Make sure at the start of each prac you have the date, location, weather, time period

As well as the practical book you will need to do four hours of your own observations
- Do it separately on a notepad, you can buy this from coop
- Write your name, department, address, mobile number on the front cover. Write all the abbreviations you will use in the note pad in the back cover (e.g. ‘’WH = water habitat’’
- For every single observation of an animal make sure you write the date, location, time, weather, animal common and scientific name
- I barely did any drawings just dot point notes
- Notes were similar to the practical book, dot points about observations of the animal – what are they doing? Why do you think they are doing this? Breeding systems, habitat, interactions with other animals etc.


The exam was worth 50%. 15 minutes reading time, 120 minutes writing time, 13 questions, 50 marks. Heck yea! What does this mean? TAKE YOUR TIME. You have an ETERNITY of time to complete this exam!

I think I got about 45/50 for the exam. Unlike all the other averages I have put up this one is going to be a complete guess - but I reckon the average exam mark would have been at least in the high 30s or maybe even 40. After taking my time writing fully fleshed out, detailed coherent paragraphed answers to each of the questions, I finished about 40 minutes early. Once I walked out of the exam I felt as if there was not a single question I had answered incorrectly, and most people I spoke to after the exam felt the same way. The exam was very, very fair. If you look at it this way – its just 24 lectures worth of content, 13 questions worth 50 marks in 135 minutes (including reading time) – it really does not look too hard. You are not pressured for time at all and there are no trick questions or ‘’dog’’ questions, everything on the exam was covered extensively in the lectures. There were some repeat questions from previous past exams and the rest were new, but even though these questions were unseen as mentioned we covered them inside out throughout the lectures. Some examples of the questions in the exam were some stuff on bioacoustics, comparing ecophysiology of a couple of mammals, zoonoses, lots of stuff about koalas, threatening processes to freshwater fishes, treaties of Antartica and so on. The only dodgy question in the exam was probably this monophyletic/paraphyletic one because this was covered poorly in the lectures. But really if you get through a textbook or something its relatively simple; monophyletic is where a common ancestor includes ALL of its descendants and paraphyletic is where the common ancestor does not include all of its descendants. The lecturer gives exactly THREE examples of a paraphyletic group and you needed to know them all AND understand why they were paraphyletic to answer the question. Bit dodgy because was not covered well but again not an impossible question.

I’m sorry this review was so long, usually mine are all short. Hope it is of good use and PM me for more information.

MODERATOR ACTION: fixed formatting :)
Lectopia Enabled
Yes, with screen capture
Kath Handasyde and various lectures and guest lecturers. Kath takes about half of them.
Past Exams Available
Several OLD past exams with no answers (but were helpful – see exam for reasons why).
Textbook Recommendation
24 lectures in total (1 hour each), a couple of films, about six 3 hour practicals.
Year & Semester Of Completion
2016, Semester 1
Your Mark /Grade

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