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Invasion and Extinction on Islands

Module titleInvasion and Extinction on Islands
Module codeJBIM006
Academic year2020/1
Module staff
Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module is divided into two sections: 1) Island Invasions and 2) Extinction on Islands. Part one introduces the problems caused on island communities and ecosystems by alien species, deepening in the biotic and abiotic consequences of their introduction, especially on species that have evolved in the absence of predators, diseases, or humans or a human modified environment. Part two deals with the ongoing extinction on islands and the natural causes of species extinction in the past (volcanic activity, sea level shift, etc.), especially the cultural (human-related) causes such as habitat destruction, transformation and fragmentation, overhunting and overfishing or species collecting. Finally, the module introduces the cases of some charismatic islands species lost.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim of this module is to raise your awareness of the risks of introducing exotic species in islands, which interferes and disrupts biological processes leading to population reductions and putatively to species extirpations or extinctions, as well as the social and/or economic consequences of exotic plagues. A further aim is to deepen your understanding of the importance of species extinction on islands, and to understand both the natural and cultural mechanisms that have produced the demise of 80% of species on islands after the 15th Century.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Evaluate qualitative and quantitatively the impact produced by exotic species due to natural systems disruption
  • 2. Diagnose, program and solve the environmental problems caused by invasive species
  • 3. Discuss the fundaments of the different natural and cultural causes affecting island extinctions and discern the causes able to produce island extinction in the near future

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Apply statistical and modelling skills to understand and interpret quantitative analyses using the more important statistical computational tools and packages
  • 5. Analyse scientific results and determine their strength and validity

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. Communicate effectively through oral presentations, written reports, posters and scientific publication
  • 7. Demonstrate management skills, such as decision-making, problem definition, project design and evaluation, risk management, teamwork and coordination, and resource and time management

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that they syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:

Island Invasions:

  • Characteristics that make a species a good invader
  • Invasibility of island communities
    • Causes of species introductions
  • Ecological and evolutionary processes affecting local biota as a consequence of the introduction of species: competition, herbivory, predation, the prevalence of parasitism and diseases (through pathogens or vectors introduction), ecosystem transformation due to the introduction of nitrogen fixers, mutualistic (pollination, dispersal) networks disruption or genetic dilution
  • The black lists
  • The most dangerous invasive species

Extinction on Islands:

  • Conservation management for control and eradication of problematic non-native species
  • Extinction, an eminent insular biogeographical process
  • Pre- and post-description extinctions
  • Cultural extinctions
    • the human activity on islands
  • Some paradigmatic cases of human-induced insular species extinctions:
    • Mauritius dodo, New Zealand moas, Madagascar elephant bird, Stellers sea-cow, Tasmanian thylacine, the Canarian giant rats and lizards, Hawaiian honeycreepers, Caribbean monk seal, the Easter Island Palm or St Helena Olive tree.

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching30Lectures – class-based activities and lecture
Guided Independent Study60Pre-reading for lectures – accessible via UoE VLE
Guided Independent Study60Writing up and finishing assessment(s)


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
2-minute papers500 words3,5Oral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Policy document1003000 words1-2,4,6-7Written


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Policy documentPolicy document1-2,4,6-7Four weeks from the date feedback was given

Re-assessment notes

One assessment is required for this module. In all cases re-assessment will be the same as the original assessment. Where you have been referred/deferred for any form of assessment detailed above you will have the opportunity to retake within the period specified above from the date that feedback was provided.

If you pass re-assessments taken as a result of deferral, your re-assessment will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment and the overall module mark will not be capped.

If you pass re-assessments taken as a result of referral (i.e. following initial failure in the assessment), the overall module mark will be capped at 50%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading


  • Island Conservation (2018) Data matters: informing the eradication of invasive species on islands: North America and the Arctic region. Contractor’s Report 2018-1. National Invasive Species Council Secretariat, Washington, DC
  • Kawakami, Kazuto, and Isamu Okochi, eds. 2010. Restoring the Oceanic Island ecosystem: Impact and management of invasive alien species in the Bonin Islands. Berlin: Springer.
  • Rodríguez, A., N. D. Holmes, P. G. Ryan, K.-J. Wilson, L. Faulquier, Y. Murillo, A. F. Raine, J. Penniman, V. Neves, B. Rodríguez, J. J. Negro, A. Chiaradia, P. Dann, T. Anderson, B. Metzger, M. Shirai, L. Deppe, J. Wheeler, P. Hodum, C. Gouveia, V. Carmo, G. P. Carreira, L. Delgado-Alburqueque, C. Guerra-Correa, F.-X. Couzi, M. Travers and M. Le Corre (2017). ‘A global review of seabird mortality caused by land-based artificial lights’. Conservation Biology.
  • Russell, JCR, Meyer J-Y, Holmes ND, Pagad, S (accepted) Invasive Alien Species on Islands: impacts, distribution and interactions. Environmental Conservation.
  • Spatz, D. R., Holmes, N. D., Reguero, B. G., Butchart, S. H., Tershy, B. R., & Croll, D. A. (2017) ‘Managing Invasive Mammals to Conserve Globally Threatened Seabirds in a Changing Climate’. Conservation Letters.
  • Spatz, D. R., Zilliacus, K. M., Holmes, N. D., Butchart, S. H., Genovesi, P., Ceballos, G., … & Croll, D. A. (2017). ‘Globally threatened vertebrates on islands with invasive species’. Science Advances, 3(10), e1603080.
  • Simberloff, Daniel; Keitt, Brad; Will, David; Holmes, Nick; Pickett, Erin; and Genovesi, Piero (2018) “Yes we can! Exciting progress and prospects for controlling invasives on islands and beyond,” Western North American Naturalist: Vol. 78 : No. 4 , Article 50.

Key Texts:

  • Bastille-Rousseau, G., Gibbs, J. P., Campbell, K., Yackulic, C. B. & Blake, S. (2017) ‘Ecosystem implications of conserving endemic versus eradicating introduced large herbivores in the Galapagos Archipelago’. Biological Conservation 209: 1-10.
  • Brooke, M. d. L., E. Bonnaud, B. J. Dilley, E. N. Flint, N. D. Holmes, H. P. Jones, P. Provost, G. Rocamora, P. G. Ryan, C. Surman and R. T. Buxton (2017). ‘Seabird population changes following mammal eradications on islands’. Animal Conservation.
  • Figuerola-Hernández CE, Swinnerton K, Holmes ND, Monsegur-Rivera OA, Herrera-Giraldo JL, Wolf C, Hanson C, Silander S and Croll DA (2017) Resurgence of Harrisia portoricensis (Cactaceae) on Desecheo Island after the removal of invasive vertebrates: management implications. Endangered Species Research 34:339-347.
  • Raine A, Holmes ND, Day, R, Cooper B (2017) ‘Declining population trends for Hawaiian Petrel and Newell’s Shearwater on Kaua’i Island, Hawaiian Islands’. Condor.
  • Schulwitz, S., Castaño, P. A., Mosquera, D., Chugcho, M., Campbell, K. J. & Johnson, J. A. (2017) ‘Floreana Island Re-colonization Potential of the Galápagos Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus galapagoensis)’ Conservation Genetics.
  • Wolf CA, Young HS, Zilliacus KM, Wegmann AS, McKown M, Holmes ND, et al. (2018) ‘Invasive rat eradication strongly impacts plant recruitment on a tropical atoll’. PLoS ONE

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Invasion, extinction, biodiversity, conservation, islands, insular, species, ecosystems

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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NQF level (module)


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