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Life on Land: Ecology, Evolution, Challenges, and Solutions

Discover the human impact on terrestrial ecosystems, biodiversity, and animals as you learn how to protect life on land.

414 enrolled on this course

Life on Land: Ecology, Evolution, Challenges, and Solutions

414 enrolled on this course

  • 4 weeks

  • 4 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Introductory level

Find out more about how to join this course

  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    4 hours
  • 100% online

    How it works
  • Unlimited subscription

    $244.99 for one whole yearLearn more

Develop knowledge and research skills in conservation

It is widely accepted that human interaction has negatively affected the phenomenal biodiversity and habitats on land. However, the exact nature of this damage is not as clearly understood.

On this four-week course from the University of the Sunshine Coast, you’ll unpack these negative impacts to gain a deeper understanding of how humans affect life on land.

You’ll develop research and analytic skills to understand how to measure and minimise human impact on terrestrial life. Ultimately, you’ll learn how to preserve terrestrial biodiversity and better protect land animals.

Explore terrestrial biodiversity and ecology

You’ll take a deep dive into the incredible biodiversity and ecology found on land. You’ll also be introduced to the form, function, and evolution of terrestrial animals.

As you learn what types of species exist, and how they have adapted to survive, you’ll gain greater insights into how to ensure animal conservation in these environments.

Uncover the human impact on the environment

You’ll examine how human behaviour exacerbates climate change, and the effects this has on terrestrial fauna and flora.

With this understanding, you’ll then take a look at new developments in terrestrial science, and how this is leading to conservation solutions.

Explore climate solutions with the University of the Sunshine Coast

Finally, you’ll unpack some of the solutions to help preserve life on land. From carbon sinks to counting animals, you’ll not only learn what is being done in conservation but how you can be part of this important fight.

Throughout the course, you’ll be guided by the specialists at the University of the Sunshine Coast and learn from ecology experts to help develop your skills, confidence, and knowledge in terrestrial conservation.


  • Week 1

    Biodiversity and ecology

    • Welcome to Life on land

      This video will give you a short introduction on what to expect over the next few weeks and the educators who will be guiding you on our journey to learn all about the amazing world on Land.

    • Introduction to Biodiversity and ecology

      In this week we will be exploring the biodiversity and ecology of life on land.

    • Functional ecology: What is it and why is it important?

      Presenter Dr. Christopher Hendersen discusses why functional ecology is key to maintaining the structure and functioning of ecosystems in a changing world.

    • Coastal animals

      Presenter Dr. Ben Gilby will discuss the amazing adaptations and life histories of animals that live along the coastal zone, and that rely on both land and the sea for their survival.

    • Australia’s unique mammal fauna

      Australia is well-known for its unique mammals, especially kangaroos and koalas. Dr. Clare Stawski discusses the variety of animals found in Australia and introduces some lesser-known, but intriguing, Australian mammals.

    • Evolution and diversity of plants on land

      Presenter Associate Professor Alison Shapcott will discuss the evolution of plants on the land.

    • The incredible diversity of invertebrates

      Dr Kit Prendergast, aka 'The Bee Babette', talks about the incredible diversity of invertebrates on the land around us, with a focus on her favorite group of invertebrates, the native bees.

    • Multiple choice test

      Test your knowledge on week 1

  • Week 2

    Form, function and evolution

    • Introduction to Form, function and evolution

      Welcome to week 2. This video is just a short description of what you will learn this week.

    • Size and shape of animals

      Size and shape of animals

    • Bat call: How bats use sound to hunt

      How bats use sound to hunt

    • Spider venom: Composition and function

      How does spider venom work?

    • Insect adhesion: How insects stick to smooth surfaces

      Insect adhesion

    • Animal adaptations to cold

      Cold temperatures present many challenges for terrestrial animals, such as not enough food being available. Dr. Clare Stawski discusses adaptations that animals have to deal with cold weather.

    • Multiple choice test

      Test your knowledge on week 2

  • Week 3

    Human impact and climate change

    • Introduction to human impact and climate change

      Welcome to week 3. This video is just a short description of what you will learn this week.

    • Urbanization and noise effects on animals

      To survive and thrive in cities, wildlife face many challenges. From sourcing food to finding love, Dominique Potvin will explain how urban habitats affect animals’ lives.

    • Conservation of wildlife in South East Asia: tigers, orangutans and rhinoceroses

      In this video Professor Cathy Yule discusses tigers, orangutans and rhinoceroses in the tropical rainforests of south East Asia and she explains why they are endangered.

    • Climate change in the Pacific Islands: Challenges and solutions

      Most Pacific Island people live differently to those in Australia so that challenges like those associated with a changing climate often require quite different solutions.

    • One health: Focus on zoonotic disease

      Dr Martina Jelocnik discusses the One Health concept and introduces zoonotic diseases, how they spread and their control.

    • History of human trash and Australian bird nests

      In this section you will learn about how human trash has impacted Australian birds over the last 200 years.

    • Multiple choice test

      Test your knowledge on week 3

  • Week 4

    Showcasing solutions

    • Introduction to Showcasing solutions

      This week, we will be looking at different ways scientists and non-scientists can contribute to research on, and conservation of, terrestrial plants and animals.

    • Forests as carbon sinks

      Dora Carias discusses forests as carbon sinks and their role in regulating climate.

    • Counting animals

      To understand or conserve species, we need to know what’s out there. Estimating population size or diversity can be done by anyone with the right tools, including you.

    • Mapping with drones

      Mapping with drones

    • Detection dogs for conservation

      Detection dogs for conservation

    • Conservation genetics

      Conservation genetics

    • Multiple choice test

      Test your knowledge from week 4!

    • Final thank you

      Final thank you for being part of our course

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Identify common groups of terrestrial species, including species along our beaches, in our forests, and deserts.
  • Discuss common problems facing species in terrestrial environments, including climate change, urbanisation, and hunting
  • Explain key aspects of the morphology, behaviour and ecology of species in terrestrial environments, including Spider venom, bat calls and insect adhesion
  • Investigate the advanced techniques and technology which are used to study and solve conservation issues by scientists, like using drones to monitor changes, or using detection dogs to find endangered species.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone wishing to learn more about life in terrestrial systems. It is designed to showcase problems and possible solutions to one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG15) - Life on land. It is intended to be a sister course to the life below water course developed at USC.

The knowledge gained can be used to pursue opportunities outside environmentalism, in diverse fields such as business, education, finance, and eco-tourism.

Who will you learn with?

Who developed the course?

University of the Sunshine Coast

The University of the Sunshine Coast is a modern higher education institution located in Queensland, Australia. USC programs include a strong focus on the core skills needed in the future workplace.

  • Established

  • Location

    Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
  • World ranking

    Top 600Source: Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021

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Choose the best way to learn for you!

Subscribe & save

$244.99 for one whole year

Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Buy this course

$134/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 26 Mar 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

Sale price available until 4 March 2024 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

Sale price available until 4 March 2024 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

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