Plant Ecology

Course CodeBSC305
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment


  • Learn about plant Ecology
  • Expand your knowledge or pursue a passion
  • Extend your opportunities to work in Horticulture, Environmental Management or Plant Sciences 

Acquire a deeper understanding of the principles of plant ecology; why plants are the way they are, their relationships to other plants and living things, how they evolved and which factors determine their growth and survival. Apply that understanding to the cultivation or management of plants, and develop a new view on the plant world.

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


  • 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.

What is Ecology?

Ecology is the study of the relationship between plants and animals and their physical and biological environment. The physical environment includes:

1. Light
2. Heat
3. Solar Radiation
4. Moisture
5. Wind
6. Oxygen
7. Carbon dioxide
8. Nutrients in soil, water and the atmosphere.

The biological environment includes:

i) Organisms within the same species
ii) Other plants
iii) Other animals

Many approaches can be made to study organisms in their environment; therefore ecology draws upon such fields as:

  • Meteorology
  • Hydrology
  • Oceanography
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Geology
  • Soil Science
  • Animal Behaviour
  • Taxonomy
  • Physiology
  • Botany
  • Mathematics

In recent years, public awareness of environmental problems has increased greatly. This has made ecology a common and often misused word.  It is often confused with environmental programs and environmental science. The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines ecology as:

"The branch of biology dealing with the relation of organisms to
one another and to their physical surroundings."

Although the field of ecology is a distinct scientific discipline, it does contribute to the study and understanding of environmental problems.

Why Study Plant Ecology?

When you understand how a plant species 'fits' within its environment, you're able to make informed choices about its management. An understanding of plant ecology will guide you choices in plant selection, care, propagation and protection from environmental hazards. So, whether plants are a professional or personal interest, studying Plant Ecology will give you a deeper, richer understanding and guide your approach to plant care and development, whatever your area of environmental interest.

It's Easy to Enrol

Select a Learning Method


$485.00Payment plans available.

Courses can be started at any time from anywhere in the world!

Need Help?

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