Department of Geography and Resource Management grmd 3206 Landscape Ecology (2011)

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Department of Geography and Resource Management

GRMD 3206 Landscape Ecology (2011)
Lecturer: Prof. K.C. Chau (SB 245); Phone 2609 6533; Email

Tutor: Mr. Lau Hoi Lung (FYB 219); Phone 2609 6233; E-mail

Lecture Venue: ELB 403 (M1-3)

Course Outline

The course begins with an examination of the structure and functions of ecosystems and their impacts by humans, including erosion, bush fire, mining and deforestation. The landscapes to be examined include fung shui woods, agroecosystem, secondary woodlands, mangrove marsh, exotic plantations, fire-induced grasslands and urban forests. Land degradation and the restoration of degraded ecosystems will then be discussed, with special emphasis on the science, principles and practices of rehabilitation, as well as the management of woodland plantations for biodiversity preservation. Field trips are compulsory.

Course Contents
1. Introduction

2. Ecosystem principles and concepts

3. Soils and ecosystem development

4. Fung shui woods in Hong Kong: biodiversity preservation and cultural legacy

5. Agroecology and agroecosystem

6. Mangrove ecology and management

7. Urban forestry: opportunities and constraints

8. Granitic landscapes in south China

9. Land degradation and restoration science: from theory to practice

10. Restoration of borrow area and quarries (soil destruction sites)

11. Fire ecology: soil, vegetation and ecosystem response

12. Restoration of fire-affected landscape (vegetation disturbance site)

13. Exotic woodland plantations and their transformation into native forests

14. Assessment of ecological restoration

Expected Learning Outcomes
The course focuses on interaction between people and ecosystems, natural or man-made. It complements the study of ecological impact assessment, which deals with ecological impacts, mitigation and auditing arising from project development. The importance of urban forests in sustaining a quality urban environment will also be addressed. After taking this course, students should be able to: (a) understand the principles and concepts of ecosystems, and their modification by humans; (b) understand the concepts of land degradation and practices of ecological restoration; (c) identify and understand the ecological and landscaping values, as well as the growth requirements of selected plant species in Hong Kong; (d) understand the values and practices of urban forestry in congested cities; and (e) develop appropriate working plans for the rehabilitation of degraded landscapes in Hong Kong and its neighboring region.

Learning Activities

There will be lectures, field trips and quizzes for this course. Lecture powerpoints will be uploaded onto the WebCT so please read them before you come to the class. There are four field trips covering most of the issues addressed in the course, and there will be take-home quizzes on three of them. Field trip manuals will be uploaded on to WebCT in advance. Please observe all the instructions, including submission deadline of the quiz.

Each student is also required to submit a literature review of a specific topic by the end of February. The literature review requires you to conduct a vigorous search of library materials to enhance your reading, analytic and writing skills, and to clarify misconceptions. As the minimum length is 2,000 words, you need to select the most appropriate references and consolidate the ideas and concepts in a systematic manner. The topics of literature review will be announced after the add-drop period. A tutorial will be provided to help you with the writing of the literature review after the add-drop period. The learning activities, excluding your revision time, are summarized below.
Field Trips
All field trips are compulsory but students will only be quizzed afterwards on three of them. The quiz paper will be uploaded on to WebCT a week before the trip to facilitate early preparation. Please read the field trip manuals before the trip and record what you will see in the field. Each student has to contribute $20 (whole-day trip) and $15 (half-day trip) for the hire of coach while the department will absorb the balance.


Place of visit (a)



19 February

(Saturday, whole day)

Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve & Tsiu Keng (b)

Comparison between a natural ecosystem (TPK) and a man-made ecosystem (agroecosystem)

Transport by coach. Bring plenty of water and packed lunch

5 March (Saturday, whole day)

Tai Tong Tree Nursery; Tai Tong East Borrow Area (b)

Tree nursery production; land degradation, ecological restoration and woodland plantations


26 March (Saturday, whole day)

Tai Po Market;

Mai Po Marshes (b, C)

Urban forestry (TPM) and

mangrove ecology (Mai Po)


4 April (Monday, half-day)

Grassy Hill

Fire ecology


(a) Place of visit is subject to change.

(b) Quiz

(c) Need your ID number to apply for entry permit.


The assessment of this course includes the following:

Literature review (%)

Field trip & quiz x 3 (%)

Final examination




The following journals are available on-line:
Restoration Ecology

Soil Science Society of America Journal

Journal of Ecology


* Reserved in University Library

** Reserved in Reference Room 220, Department of Geography and Resource Management

The rest are available in the University Library.

Required readings

Brady, N.C. and Weil, R.R. (1999). The Nature and Properties of Soils. London (Prentice Hall), Chapters 1, 2, 9, 12 and 13.

Odum, E. and Barrett, G.W. (2004). Fundamentals of Ecology, 5th edition, Chapters 2, 3, 4 & 8.

Jordan, W.R. III, Gilpin, M.E. and Aber, J.D. (eds.) (1987). Restoration Ecology. A Synthetic Approach to Ecological Research. Cambridge University Press (Cambridge), 342 pp.
Recommended readings
Assessment of ecological restoration

Courtney, R., Muller, G. and Harrington, T. (2009). An Evaluation of Revegetation Success on Bauxite Residue. Restoration Ecology, 17:350-358.

Ewel, J.J. (1993). Restoration is the ultimate test of ecological theory. In Jordan, W.R. III, Gilpin, M.E. and Aber, J.D. (eds.), Restoration Ecology: a Synthetic Approach to Ecological Research. CUP (Cambridge), pp.31-33.

Miller, J.R. and Hobbs, R.J. (2007). Habitat Restoration—Do We Know What We’re Doing? Restoration Ecology 15 (3), 382–390.

Ruiz-Jaen, M.C. and Aide, T.M. (2005) Restoration Success: how is it being measured? Restoration Ecology, 13:569-577.

Zheng, H.L. (2009). Ecological Assessment of Restored Subtropical Forests in Hong Kong. Unpublished PhD Thesis, Department of Geography and Resource Management, CUHK.

Fire and ecosystem development

David, M.J.S. et al. (2009). Fire in the Earth System. Science, 324:481-484.

*Debano, L.F. et al. (1998). Fire’s Effects on Ecosystems. John Wiley (N.Y.), Chapters 4, 6, 7, 9 & 14.

Fong, M.K.L. (1982). How Changing Attitudes to Recreation Affect the New Territories Countryside, Occasional Paper 31, Department of Geography, CUHK.

Giovannini, G. et al. (1990). Effects of Heating on Some Chemical Parameters Related to Soil Fertility and Plant Growth. Soil Science, 149:344-350.

**Marafa, L.M. and Chau, K.C. (1999). Effect of hill fire on upland soil in Hong Kong. Forest Ecology and Management, 120:97-104.

Philpot, C.W. (1970). Influence of Mineral Content on the Pyrolysis of Plant Materials. Forest Sci., 16:461-471.

Raison, R.J., and McGarity, J.W. (1980). Some effects of plant ash on the chemical properties of soils and aqueous suspensions. Plant and Soil, 55:339-52.

**Thrower, S.L. and Thrower, L.B. (1986). The Effect of Periodic Fires on the Development of a Hill-side Community in Hong Kong. Memoirs of the Hong Kong Natural History Society, October (1986):45-49.

Saharjo, B.H. and Watanabe, H. (1999). The Flammability of Shrubs and Trees in an Acacia mangium Plantation Based on Silica-free Ash Content. J. For. Res. 4:57-59.

Forest succession and restoration planting in South China and Hong Kong

Chau, K.C. and Au, P.S. (2001) Sustainable Forestry in Hong Kong – Native species Regeneration underneath Acacia confusa plantation woodlands. In Kwan-yiu Wong & Jianfa Shen (eds.), Resource Management, Urbanization and Governance, CUHK Press (HK), pp.133-152.

**Corlett, R.T. (1999). Environmental Forestry in Hong Kong: 1871-1997. Forest Ecology and Management, 116:93-105.

Lee, E.W.S., Hau, B.C.H. and Corlett, R.T. (2005). Native regeneration in exotic tree plantations in Hong Kong, China. Forest Ecology and Management, 212:358-366.

**Zhuang, X.Y. and Corlett, R.T. (1997). Forest and forest succession in Hong Kong. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 14:857-866.

**姚清尹 (1989). 華南花崗石地區人工生態系統的研究. 科學出版社, pp.117-130.

Fung shui woods

Butterfield, R.P. and Fisher, R.F. (1994). Untapped Potential - Native Species for Reforestation. Journal of Forestry, 1994 (June):37-40.

Corlett, R.T. (1999). Environmental forestry in Hong Kong:1871-1997. For. Ecol. Manage., 116:93-105.

Chu, W.H. and Xing, F.W. (1997). “A checklist of vascular plants found in fung shui woods in Hong Kong,” In I.J. Hodgkiss (ed.), Memoirs of Hong Kong Natural History Society, Hong Kong, pp.151-172.

Webb, R. (1994). Earth god and village shrines in the New Territories of Hong Kong, J. Hong Kong Branch Royal Asiatic Society, 34:183-191.

Yip, J. K. L., Ngar, Y.N., Yip, J., Liu, E.K.Y. and Lai, P.C.C. (2004). Venturing Fung Shui Woods (風水林). Friends of the Country, Parks, Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department & Cosmos Books Ltd., Hong Kong, 115 pp.

《 香港舊風物 》, 饒玖才 , 天地圖書有限公司, 2001年,頁114-117。
Landscape ecology and ecosystem development

Maarel, E. van der (ed.) (2005). Vegetation Ecology, UK (Blackwell), Chapter 3.

Mangrove ecology and management

Lee Shing-Yip (ed.) (1999). The Mangrove Ecosystem of Deep Bay and the Mai Po Marshes, Hong Kong. Hong Kong University Press.

Lai, L.W.C., Lam, K. K. H., Lam, F. T. and Wong, L. S. K. (2006). Economics of Gei Wai Shrimp Culture in Hong Kong: from Commercial Aquaculture to Bird. In Leung, P.S. and Engle, R. C. (eds.), Shrimp Culture: Economics, Market, and, Blackwell, pp.167 -186.

Nora F.Y. Tam and Y.S. Wong (2002). Conservation and sustainable exploitation of mangroves in Hong Kong. Trees, 16:224–229.

Nutrients, ecosystem development and ecological restoration

*Bradshaw, A.D. (1999). The importance of nitrogen in the remediation of degraded land. In: Wong, M.H., Wong, J.W.C. and Baker, A.J.M. (eds.), Remediation and Management of Degraded Lands, Lewis (Washington D.C.), pp. 153-162.

Malcolm, G.M., Bush, D.S. and Rice, S.K. (2008). Soil Nitrogen Conditions Approach Preinvasion Levels Following Restoration of Nitrogen-Fixing Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) Stands in a Pine-Oak Ecosystem. Restoration Ecology, 16:70-78.

Maloney, K.O., Garten, C.T. and Ashwood, T.L. (2008). Changes in Soil Properties Following 55 Years of Secondary Forest Succession at Foot Benning, Georgia, U.S.A. Restoration Ecology, 16:503-510.

*Young, A. (1989). "Trees and shrubs for soil improvement," In: Young, A. (ed.), Agroforestry for Soil Conservation, C.A.B. International, pp. 157-168.

Zinn, Y.L. et al. (2002). Soil organic carbon as affected by afforestation with Eucalyptus and Pinus in the Cerrado region of Brazil. Forest Ecology & Management, 166:285-294.
Plantation, enrichment planting, and forest development on degraded lands

Arocena, J.M. et al. (2010). Initial Soil Development Under Pioneer Plant Species in Metal Mine Waste Deposits. Restoration Ecology, 18 (Issue Supplement s2), 244-252.

Hau, B.C.H. and Corlett, R.T. (2003). Factors affecting the early survival and growth of native tree seedlings planted on degraded hillside grassland in Hong Kong, China. Restoration Ecology, 11:483-488.

Jim, C.Y. (2001). Ecological and landscape rehabilitation of a quarry site in Hong Kong. Restoration Ecology, 9:85-94.

**Parrotta, J.A. et al. (1997). Catalyzing Native Forest Regeneration on Degraded Tropical Lands. Forest Ecology and Management, 99:1-7.
Restoration and restoration ecology

Davis, M.A. and Slobodkin, L.B. (2004). The science and values of restoration ecology. Restoration Ecology, 12:1-3.

Hobbs, R.J. and Harris, J.A. (2001). Restoration Ecology: Repairing the Earth’s Ecosystems in the New Millennium. Restoration Ecology, 9:239-246.

*Jordan, W.R. III, Gilpin, M.E. and Aber, J.D. (eds.) (1993). Restoration Ecology: a Synthetic Approach to Ecological Research. CUP (Cambridge), Chapters 1, 2, 3, 16 & 21.

Peng, S.L., Hou, Y.P. and Chen, B.M. (2009). Vegetation Restoration and its Effects on Carbon Balance in Guangdong Province, China. Restoration Ecology, 17:487-494.

Turner, W.R., Oppenheimer, M. and Wilcove, D.S. (2009). A force to fight global warming. Nature, 462:278-279.

Weiher, E. (2007). On the status of restoration science: Obstacles and opportunities. Restoration Ecology, 15:340-343.
Restoration with native and exotic species

**Butterfield, R.P. and Fisher, R.F. (1994). Untapped Potential - Native Species for Reforestation. Journal of Forestry, 1994 (June):37-40.

D’Antonio, C. et al. (2002). Exotic Plant Species as Problems and Solutions in Ecological Restoration: A Synthesis. Restoration Ecology, 10:703-713.

** Ewel, J.J. and Putz, F.E. (2004). A place for alien species in ecosystem restoration. Front Ecol. Environ., 2:354-360.

Fisher, R.F. (1995). Amelioration of Degraded Rain Forest Soils by Plantations of Native Trees. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J., 59:544-549.
Seed bank and seedling growth

Carolina, O.Z. and Montagnini, F. (2007). Seed rain and seed dispersal agents in pure and mixed plantations of native trees and abandoned pastures at La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica. Restoration Ecology, 15:453-461.

Rotundo, J.L. and Aguiar, M.R. (2005). Litter effects on plant regeneration in arid lands: a complex balance between seed retention, seed longevity and soil-seed contact. J. Ecology, 93:829-838.

Svenning, J.-C. and Wright, S.J. (2005). Seed limitation in a Panamanian forest. J. Ecology, 93:853-862.

Soil Science

Young, A. (1989). Agroforestry for Soil Conservation. UK (C.A.B. International), Part III.

Transformation of Exotic Plantations

**Burgess, B. and Wetzel, S. (2000). Nutrient availability and regeneration response after partial cutting and site preparation in eastern white pine. Forest Ecology and Management, 138:249-261.

Johson, C.E., Johnson, A.H. and Siccama, T.G. (1991). Whole-tree clear-cutting effects on exchangeable cations and soil acidity. Soil Science Society of American Journal, 55, 502-508.

Parrotta, J.A. et al. (1997). Catalyzing Native Forest Regeneration on Degraded Tropical Lands. Forest Ecology and Management, 99:1-7.

Walters, M.B. and Reich, P.B. (2000). Seed size, nitrogen supply, and growth rate affect tree seedling survival in deep shade. Ecology, 81:1887-1901.

Wong, M.M. (2007). The transformation of Acacia confusa woodlands into native forests in Hong Kong. Unpublished M.Phil Thesis, Department of Geography and Resource Management, CUHK.

Urban Forestry

**Chau, K.C. and Chan, W.Y. (2000). Planter Soils in Hong Kong: I. Soil Properties and Characterization. Arboricultural Journal, 24:59-74.

**Chau, K.C., Chan, W.Y. and Marafa, L.M. (2000). Planter Soils in Hong Kong: II. Fluxes of Nitrogen and Phosphorus. Arboricultural Journal, 24: 189-208.

**Craul, P.J. (1985). A Description of Urban Soils and Their Desired Characteristics. J. Arboriculture, 11:330-339.

Jim, C.Y. (1987). The Status and Prospects of Urban Trees in Hong Kong. Landscape and Urban Planning, 14:1-20.

Jim, C.Y. (1992). Tree-habitat Relationships in Hong Kong. Environ. Conservation, 19:209-218.

Lohr, V.I., Pearson-Mims, C.H., Tarnai, J. and Dillman, D.A. (2004). How urban residents rate and rank the benefits and problems associated with trees in cities. J. Arboriculture, 30:28-35.

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