Skip To Content
Terrestrial Biodiversity is a Course

Terrestrial Biodiversity

Started May 4, 2016

Sorry! The enrollment period is currently closed. Please check back soon.

Full course description


This module aims to generate interest in the biodiversity of tropical terrestrial ecosystems. The student’s understanding of biodiversity will be widened via the use of several relatively straightforward but widely-used biodiversity indices. Students will get to learn the pros and cons of utilizing these indices, and as a result be able to determine the best biodiversity indices to be used in a wide range of different situations. Furthermore, the module will teach the students the main forest types found in tropical Asia, what they look like, their dominant plant families, and how they are shaped by climate and soils.  Finally, the module will increase the understanding of the key importance of mutualistic relationships in the evolution and maintenance of biodiversity. Special emphasis will be placed on animal-plant mutualisms and recent discoveries made in Brunei.  The accompanied study questions and work sheets will enhance students’ ability in mathematical interpretations and how to conduct cost-benefit analyses in evaluating the role of biodiversity in providing ecosystem services. 


Ulmar Grafe is a professor of biology at University Brunei Darussalam. He earned a Master degree at the University of Würzburg, Germany and a PhD degree in behavioral ecology from Cornell University, USA.  He has taught in various institutions around the world in a wide variety of subjects including biodiversity, animal ecology, animal physiology, immunology and parasitology. Prof Grafe is interested in understating the functional role of amphibians in tropical ecosystems and human altered landscapes, the sensory ecology of frog-biting midges, the duetting behavior of tropical birds, the behavioral ecology of foot-flagging frogs and the mutualistic relationship between woolly bats and pitcher plants. His research has taken him to Ivory Coast, Malaysia, Puerto Rico, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. 


Online forums will be used to support the scaffolding of knowledge, understanding and abilities. The teaching style will include video conferencing, discussion forums and activity based learning techniques. The focus of the teaching style will be determined through learning diagnostics, undertaken by students, which will identify learning styles needs. A cooperative learning framework is used as a means of supporting equity for both teaching and learning styles.

Video Overview

Biodiversity is a measure of the variety of organisms present in different ecosystems and it ensures the survival of humans by providing food, fuel, shelter, medicines, and other resources.This module aims to generate interest in the biodiversity of tropical terrestrial ecosystems. It is an introduction to biodiversity and conservation with emphasis on how to measure biodiversity, classify forests ecosystems, and understand animal-plant interactions. Original data sets and examples will be taken form Southeast Asia and in particular from Borneo, the World’s 3rd largest island -- a megadiverse biodiversity hotspot.

What you get

Species richness, Shannon-Wiener Diversity index, evenness, Simpson’s index, Berger-Parker index of dominance, use cases of indices, alpha diversity, beta diversity, and gamma diversity, overview of tropical Asian forest types, overview of climatic conditions in tropical Asia, overview of major soil types in tropical Asia, the prisoner’s dilemma, routes to cooperation, mutualism, competition, symbioses, ant-macaranga associations, bat-pitcher plant mutualism, cleaner fishes, pollination, mycorrhizal associations, lichens, corals, cost-benefit analyses, and optimal foraging.