Plant Ecology

Learn about the principles of plant ecology. Apply that knowledge to horticulture and the cultivation of plants, and develop a new view on the plant world.

Course Code: BSC305
Fee Code: S3
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
Get started!

Learn How Plants are Affected by their Surroundings!


Develop a deeper understanding on the principles of plant ecology, why plants are the way they are, their relationships to other plants, animals and the physical world around them.
 
Anyone working with plats can benefit from this course; from landscapers and permaculturists, to farmers and environmental managers.
 
Study this for Professional Development
or to simply raise your understanding of the world around you.

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introductory Ecology
  2. Plant Communities
  3. Plants and their Environment
  4. Plants, Soils & Climate
  5. Plant Adaptations to Extreme Environments
  6. Manipulating Plant Environments
  7. Environmental Conservation
  8. Environmental Organisations, Assessment and Funding

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Aims

  • 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 horticulturist’s 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.

How Do Plants Adapt: to Different Environments

 
Plants have evolved to cope with extreme environments by using both physical and chemical adaptations. Some of these are outlined below:

Water-limited Environments
Geographic areas where water is limited and infrequent are extremely stressful to plants living within these communities. Different plants have adopted a variety of techniques to deal with these conditions.
  • Morphological Adaptations - Certain desert plants have adapted to infrequent rainfalls by increasing their ability to store water. Plants such as Cacti have the ability to store water in their stems, leaves and trunks. These are referred to as “succulent” plants. They also keep their stomata closed during the day and open at night to reduce water loss. Bromeliads and other epiphytic (tree-dwelling) plants also have adapted to limited water availability by collecting water in a well-like structure for future use.
  •  Leaf Adaptations - Other plants adapt to dry conditions by reducing the surface area of the leaves. They can have short, leathery leaves or spiky or leaves that are rolled inwards. These assist in reducing the rate of evaporation from the plant.
  • Root Adaptations - Trees in arid environments, such as the Mallee of Australia have adapted their root structure to suit their environment. By adopting chemical and physical changes, they are able to enhance their water-storing ability following heavy rains. This improves their chances of surviving long drought periods which are a natural feature of the environment.
  • Reproductive Adaptations – The seeds of desert plants have evolved to survive extreme temperatures and drought periods by developing hard coats to protect the embryo. They can remain dormant under the ground or exposed to the air long periods of time prior to germination. Others have developed hooks on the outer coat to assist with dispersal by attaching to passing animal fur or skin. There are also some that will only germinate following an environmental trigger such as the external temperature dropping to a specific level, or exposure to extreme heat from fire.

Light-limited Environments
Closed forests such as rainforests have dense canopies and therefore the amount of light which reaches the forest floor is greatly limited. Many plants have adapted to these environments in different ways such as:
  • Climbing plants – Vines and lianas can climb higher to reach light.
  • Epiphytes – live in the canopy trees where there is greater access to light.
  • Darker foliage – plants that are unable to climb higher to access light may have darker foliage to help them capture and absorb more light.
  • Size-restriction – some plants are able to stall their growth and remain at a small size for significant lengths of time until a light gap becomes available.


Epiphytes in Water-Inundated Environments

Trees such as Mangroves have to cope with intermittent inundation of salt water and soil which is soft and low in oxygen. These are extreme environmental stressors and mangrove plants have developed various methods to adapt to this environment such as:
  • Leaf adaptations – some mangrove plants have glands on their leaves to excrete salt, others can store this salt in large amounts in their leaves. Mangroves can also move their leaves so as to reduce the size of the surface area exposed to the sun. This then reduces the amount of water lost.
  • Root Adaptations – Exposed roots rising vertically from the ground. These not only provide structural support for the tree but also allow for oxygen transfer to roots trapped below the ground. These roots can also halt the movement of salt to other parts of the plant.
  • Reproductive Adaptations – Some mangrove trees produce floating seeds that can be dispersed on the tide to avoid overcrowding. Others are viviparous (the offspring develops while attached to the adult plant). Once the offspring has matured it drops into the water, where it will stay dormant until it reaches soil.

 

ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.


How can I start this course?

You can enrol at anytime and start the course when you are ready. Enrolments are accepted all year - students can commence study at any time. All study is self paced and ACS does not set assignment deadlines.

Please note that if a student is being assisted by someone else (e.g. an employer or government subsidy), the body offering the assistance may set deadlines. Students in such situations are advised to check with their sponsor prior to enrolling. The nominal duration of a course is approximately how long a course takes to complete. A course with a nominal duration of 100 hours is expected to take roughly 100 hours of study time to complete. However, this will vary from student to student. Short courses (eg. 100 hrs duration) should be completed within 12 months of enrolment. Certificates, Advanced Certificates and Awards (eg. over 500 hours duration) would normally be completed within 3 -5 years of enrolment. Additional fees may apply if a student requires an extended period to complete.
If a student cannot submit their assignments for 6 months to ACS, they should advise the school to avoid cancellation of their student
registration. Recommencement fees may apply.

Simply click on the ENROL OPTIONS button at the top of this screen and follow the prompts.

You can see the course price at the top of this page. Click 'enrolment options' to see any payment options available.

You can pay by Credit Card, PayPal, Afterpay or bank transfer.

Yes! We have payment plans for most courses. Click 'enrolment options' to see the available payment plans.
We also have Afterpay that will allow you to pay for your course or payment plans in four instalments (if you are in Australia).


What do I need to know before I enrol?

There are no entry requirements that you need to meet to enrol in our courses, our courses are for everyone.
If you are under 18, we need written permission from your parent/ guardian for your enrolment to continue, we can arrange that after you have enrolled.

You don’t need to purchase any additional resources to complete our courses.

We aim to teach you the essentials without you having to purchase any specific computer program.
We recommend that you have access to a word processing program, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs, so that you can easily complete and submit your assignments.

You sure can. We are here to help you learn whatever your abilities.

Yes, if you are enrolling in a Certificate or Advanced Certificate, you might be eligible for credits if you have evidence of your previous studies or relevant experience. More information is here.

We recommend that you are able to browse websites, send emails and conduct online research. You will need to be able to type and submit your assignments.
If you have limited computer skills, we can make special arrangements for you.

This is possible, it depends on the institution. We recommend that if you would like to use our courses that you contact the institution first. Our Course Handbook is a good resource for this.

Our courses are written in English and we only have English speaking academic staff. If you can read and complete your assignments in English, our courses are ideal for you.

Our courses are designed to build knowledge, hands on skills and industry connections to help prepare you to work in the area, running your own business, professional development or as a base for further study.

This course has been designed to cover the fundamentals of the topic. It will take around 100 hours to complete, which includes your course reading, assignment work, research, practical tasks, watching videos and anything else that is contained in the course. Our short courses are a great way to do some professional development or to learn a new skill.

It’s up to you. The study hours listed in the course are a rough guide, however if you were to study a short course (100 hours) at 10 hours per week, you could finish the course in 10 weeks (just an example). Our courses are self-paced, so you can work through the courses in your own time. We recommend that you wait for your tutor to mark and return your assignment before your start your next one, so you get the benefits of their feedback.

The course consists of course notes, videos, set tasks for your practical work, online quizzes, an assignment for each lesson (that you receive feedback from your tutor from) and ends in an exam (which is optional, if would like to receive the formal award at the end), using our custom built Learning Management System - Login.Training.

Our courses are designed for adults to gain professional development and skills to further their careers and start businesses.

Our custom online learning portal allows you to conduct your learning online. There may be practical tasks that you can do offline. You have the option of downloading your course notes or print them to read later.

There is also the option to pay an additional fee for printed course notes and or USB (availability limited to location and deliverability).

Yes, if you don’t have access to the internet, you can receive the course as paper notes or on a USB stick for an additional fee. We can also make alternative arrangements for you to send your assignments to us.

We offer printed notes for an additional fee. Also, you can request your course notes on a USB stick for an additional fee.

Yes, your tutor is here to help you. Simply post any questions you have in your login.training portal or contact the office and we can pass on a message to your tutor.

We are more learning focussed, rather than assessment focussed. You have online quizzes to test your learning, written assignments and can complete an exam at the end of the course (if you want to receive your certificate). You will not receive a pass/ fail on your course work. If you need to add more details on your assignment, we will ask you to resubmit and direct you where you need to focus. If you need help, you can ask your tutor for advice in the student room.

Each module (short course) is completed with one exam.

Exams are optional, however you must sit an exam if you would like to receive a formal award. You will need to find someone who can supervise that you are sitting the exams under exams conditions. There is an additional cost of $55 (AUS) $50 (O/S) for each exam.
More information is here

There are practical components built into the course that have been designed to be achieved by anyone, anywhere. If you are unable to complete a task for any reason, you can ask your tutor for an alternative.

When you complete the course work and the exam and you will be able receive your course certificate- a Statement of Attainment. Otherwise, you can receive a Letter of Completion.

You can bundle the short courses to create your own customised learning bundle, Certificates or Advanced Certificates. More information is on this page.

Yes, our courses are built to be applicable for people living anywhere in any situation. We provide the fundamentals, and each student can apply their own unique flair for their own interests, region and circumstances with the one-on-one guidance of a tutor. There is also a bit of student directed research involved.

Employers value candidates with industry skills, knowledge, practical skills and formal learning. Our courses arm you with all of these things to help prepare you for a job or start your own business. The longer you study the more you will learn.

ACS has an arrangement with OAMPS (formerly AMP) who can arrange Professional Indemnity from Australian and New Zealand graduates across all disciplines. Ph: 1800 222 012 or email acs@oamps.com.au.


Who are ACS Distance Education?

ACS Distance Education have been educating people for over 40 years.

We are established and safe- we have been in education for over 40 years.
We are focused on developing innovative courses that are relevant to you now and what you will need to know in the future.
We are focused on helping you learn and make the most of your experience.
You can enrol at any time, you can work on your course when it suits you and at your own pace.
We are connected to many industry bodies and our staff participate in continuous improvement and learning activities to ensure that we are ahead of what learning is needed for the future.

Our courses are not accredited by the Australian Government. However many of our courses are recognised and held in high regard by many industry bodies.

Our courses are written by our staff, who all have many years experience and have qualifications in their speciality area. We have lots of academic staff who write and update our courses regularly.


How do I enrol my staff/ sponsored students?

Yes, you can do a request for a bulk enrolment and request an invoice on our Invoice Request Form

We can prepare an invoice, quote or proforma invoice. Simply complete your details on our Invoice Request form

We can arrange bulk discounts for your course enrolment, please get in touch with us to discuss your needs.

Yes, we have many students who are in locked facilities, such as prisons or hospitals. We can cater by also offering paper notes at an additional cost.


What if I have any more questions or need more information?

We can assist you to find the right course for your needs. Get in touch with us via email (admin@acs.edu.au) call on +61 7 5562 1088 or complete our course advice form.


What if I change my mind?

Please get in touch with studentservices@acs.edu.au if you would like to be removed from our mail list.

If you would like ACS Distance Education to delete your information at any time (whether you are a customer or a prospective customer), please contact our privacy officer and we will process this ( admin@acs.edu.au ).




Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Rosemary Davies (Horticulturist)

Leading horticultural expert in Australia.
Rosemary trained in Horticultural Applied Science at Melbourne University. Initially she worked with Agriculture Victoria as an extension officer, taught horticulture students, worked on radio with ABC radio (c

John Mason (Horticulturist)

Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant.
Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK.
He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world.

Marie Beermann

Marie has more than 10 years experience in horticulture and education in both Australia and Germany. Marie's qualifications include B. Sc., M. Sc. Hort., Dip. Bus., Cert. Ldscp.





Tutors

Meet some of the tutors that guide the students through this course.

Sarah Pirecki

BAnVetBioSc., Dip. ProjMgt (TBC).

A passionate advocate for animal health and welfare. Sarah completed a Bachelor of Animal and Veterinary Bioscience majoring in Animal Health and Disease and is currently completing a Diploma of Project Management. She has a wide range of experience working in agricultural settings, veterinary nursing, assistance dog raising, and animal education.

Sarah Berry

B.Sc.(Hons)

Sarah completed a Bachelor of Science (Zoology) with Honours from The University of Queensland in 2014. With an honours project focusing on glow worms in Australia, she then moved onto a PhD in Aquaculture from James Cook University working with Australian prawn farmers to grow bigger, better prawns. She has a wide range of scientific experience over the past 5 years in physiology, genetics, ecology, molecular technology, statistics, animal health, care, and nutrition. Sarah is currently continuing her work in research while publishing her PhD work.

Timothy Walker

B.A.(Botany), RHS.M. Hort., Post.Grad.Dip.Ed.

Timothy is a Botanist, Horticulturist and Gardener. He is an Author, and also a lecturer at Somerville College, Oxford. After training at a number of gardens including Windsor Great Park and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Timothy commenced work at Oxford Botanic Gardens in 1986. Appointed as "Horti Praefectus" (Superintendent/Director) there in 1988, he held that position until 2014. Under Timothy's watch, the garden won four gold medals at the Chelsea Flower Show, and developed 67 acres of MG5 wild flower meadow at the Harcourt Arboretum; a UK threatened habitat. Timothy remains an active practical gardener as well as a highly respected international academic in the fields of horticulture and plant botany.

Need Help?

Take advantage of our personalised, expert course counselling service to ensure you're making the best course choices for your situation.


I agree for ACS Distance Education to contact me and store my information until I revoke my approval. For more info, view our privacy policy.