Problem Based Learning – Sample Project: WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT



Project Aim
Determine an appropriate management plan for an endangered species of wildlife.

Learning Outcomes
1. Identify the objectives of a management program for an endangered species.
2. Determine appropriate techniques for carrying out a census of an endangered species.
3. Identify techniques for increasing the population of the endangered species.
4. Identify pest species and their undesirable effect on the endangered species of bird.
5. Identify techniques for reducing the undesirable impacts of the pest species on the endangered bird.
6. Present a management plan in a form that is appropriate for use by wildlife workers.

Problem Definition
You are a wildlife manager who previously has worked in large National Parks. You have now been assigned a new position as manager of Fragment National Park. Fragment National Park is the last place on Earth that the Fragment Owl can be found in the wild.

Fragment National Park is so named because it is a very small patch of forest, isolated from other patches of forest. The Park has a total area of 100 Hectares. It consists of temperate forest with a small amount of weed invasion, mostly concentrated on its edges.

Your main role in your new position is to develop a management plan for the Fragment Owl. This will be quite a challenge, as Fragment National Park is surrounded by semi cleared to totally cleared areas with semi rural housing. The local residents have a love of cats, and this has lead to a feral cat problem in the park. The cats are particularly well fed as they not only feed on the Fragment Owl and the other native birds, but there is a large population of feral rats. The rats also provide a food source for the Fragment Owl.

The Owl would normally have eaten the chicks of other native birds and the Fragment mouse. However, there are few species of native birds in the park now, due to the clearing of the surrounding land for housing. The Fragment mouse has been almost completely displaced by the introduced rat.

Team Structure and Mode of Interaction
You are in the hypothetical role of a wildlife manager, but you will not be working alone. You will interact with a number of different people in this project. Being a relatively short project, the quantity of interaction with others needs to be limited, and you need to plan to ask your questions in a concise and clear manner.

Your team will consist of yourself; your tutor; two friends or relatives who will pose as landholders; and one wildlife manager you will interview. Your tutor is in the hypothetical role of a wildlife manager who you refer to for specialist advice on the project. You should approach your tutor in the same way that you would approach a consultant in a real life situation.

You must do the following:
• You must interview the two landholders and determine whether they have any issues regarding the preservation of the Fragment Owl.
• You must contact your tutor twice via phone, fax or email during the project, before attempting to commence the final submission. At each point of contact, you should be mindful that the hypothetical consultant (tutor) is both an expert but also one that charges by the hour; so questions you put should be meaningful, designed to contribute toward achieving the stated project aim, and above all, should not be repetitive. Contact should be concise and time efficient.
• You must also seek support from your tutor and any other interested parties within the school, by submitting relevant questions to one of the student room forums, seeking meaningful feedback, on at least two occasions during the project, before attempting to commence the final submission. You must also check for responses and if useful, incorporate the responses into your final report.
• You must contact a real life wildlife manager at least once during the project. You might contact such a person by telephone, email, fax, in writing or by some other method. You will need to ask what their views are on the problem and what they might do to overcome the problem.

Discussion Questions
• What are the goals of the management program for the Fragment Owl?
• What are the interactions between owl, cat, rat and mouse in Fragment National Park?
• What issues do landholders have in terms of the preservation of the Fragment Owl? Issues might include whether they would be prepared to have all cats desexed; are they prepared to have their access to the National Park limited, and so on.
• What do other wildlife managers feel are the major challenges and possible options for managing the population of Fragment Owls?
• What are the options for the future for the Fragment Owl?
These are examples of issues or questions that you may address in your solution, whether or not you can find answers.

• Human resources (optional) - You may draw on the skills, knowledge and assistance of others – other students, experts whom you consult, friends. All assistance must be acknowledged.
• Other resources (compulsory) – You are expected to use some resources, but the choice of which ones are yours. You may gather the information required to solve this problem from course readings, books, journals, news programs, the internet, etc. All sources must be acknowledged.

Duration- This project should take between 8-10 hours (including communications with a tutor or others). When 10 hours of work has been completed, submit what you have, no matter what stage it is at. You may be penalised for exceeding this time limit.

Assessment - You will be assessed on your capacity to work through the problem to a logical conclusion. You are not being assessed on the report, but the report will need to demonstrate that you have worked through a logical process in order to arrive at your conclusion. Your interaction with a tutor and use of a forum in the student room are also indicators that you have worked through the problem appropriately.

Final Report
You may use any if a variety of means to present your project but should not spend more than a quarter of the total time involved in the project, on preparing the presentation.

Most students are likely to submit a written presentation, possibly with one or more illustrations. If you have the equipment at hand, and appropriate skills, it is acceptable for you to submit a presentation any other way (e.g. multimedia presentation with PowerPoint or Flash, Video, CD or DVD). Your presentation must include:

1. the goals of the Management Plan for the Fragment Owl,
2. a list of issues that arose during the project, that you either could not deal with or that were not essential to the project.
3. a list of resources used, including human resources.
4. a future direction for management, for use by future managers.
5. a description of the consultations that were undertaken with stakeholders.
6. a summarised management plan for the fragment owl

This report should be no longer than 3 pages of written text, or the equivalent in spoken words.