Environmental and Geospatial Sciences: BIOL 1015: Sustainable Ecosystems

By JJ Harrison (jjharrison89@facebook.com) -Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10365439

BIOL 1015: Sustainable Ecosystems

This guide will help you find information for your Major Project.

Before you begin read all the assessment instructions on your course site including the Biological Survey Methods (BSM) – practical manual.

What is biodiversity and why is it important?

Watch the following video before you get started:

 Video Length: 7:52

What is a Biological Survey?

Biological surveys are a key method for collecting information. The Department for the Environment and Water (DEW) collects detailed information on the size, distribution, abundance, growth, birth rates and mortality for species of plants and animals - threatened or common, pests or endemic - in marine and terrestrial environments.

To ensure that this information is collected as consistently as possible, detailed survey manuals have been produced. They cover techniques required to enable the data collected to contribute to the Biological Databases of South Australia.

   More information

Find out more about the purpose of biodiversity surveys here:

Plan your search

Before you get started it is important to plan your search. Watch the following video:

 Video Length: 2:26

While this assignment doesn't have a question to address, the assignment instructions outline a number of topics that need to be addressed. It may be helpful to plan a search for each of these topics to ensure you get relevant results.

   Follow these steps

1. Define any terms you are unsure of. Use dictionaries, encyclopedia, handbooks or websites.

2. Identify main concepts in your topics. These will help you form your searches. For example, for the topic "Biological survey":

Concept 1 biological survey
Concept 2 conservation

3. Identify any synonyms or similar keywords for alternative concepts. You may find it helpful to put these in a table.

Concept 1  "biological survey" OR "field site"
Concept 2 conservation OR sustainability

4. Add in any:

  • Plurals or different word endings: plant, plants, biology, biological
  • Hyphenated words: pre-European Flora, pre European Flora
  • Different word spellings: organisation, organization
  • Common acronyms: South Australia, SA

Combining concepts

Once you have identified your key concepts, you need to combine them using AND & OR.

1. OR is used to connect synonyms or alternative concepts to broaden your search:

Concept 1 "biological survey" OR "biodiversity survey"
Concept 2 sustainable OR conservation OR care

2. AND is used to connect different concepts. The more concepts you add using AND the narrower your search will become:

Concept 1  "biological survey" OR "biodiversity survey"
Concept 2 sustainable OR conservation OR care

3. You can also use:

  • Quotation marks " " to keep words together to search for a phrase.
  • Asterisk * to search for word variations, e.g. biolog* will find biology, biological, etc.
   Read: How to plan your search

Start your search

The Library Catalogue is a good place to start your search for scholarly material. You can use it to find eBooks, journal articles, reports, videos and more.

1. Type your main concepts into the search box.

screenshot of search example in Library Catalogue
  • Tip: use double quotes to keep concepts together as a phrase.

2. Broaden your search by adding synonyms using the connector OR.

screenshot of search example in Library Catalogue

3. "Refine my results" to find exactly what you need.

  • Tip: You may want to limit your results by adding a date range filter.
undefined   Watch: How to search the Library catalogue (1.47)

Search the Library Catalogue

Try Google Scholar

   Search Google Scholar

Google Scholar searches only within academic or scholarly sites, rather than the whole internet. By accessing Google Scholar from within the library website, you will be able to link directly to articles that the library has access to by clicking on the Full-text at UniSA link. Use the Google Scholar link from the Library website for best access to full-text references.

More searching options


Databases are online collections of resources including articles, papers, book chapters and reports. Databases have advanced search options, helping to focus your search and find more relevant, scholarly references quickly.

1. Type your first concept and alternative concepts into the advanced search box

screenshot of search example in ProQuest Biological Science Database
  • Tip: use double quotes to keep concepts together as a phrase.

2. Select + Add a row and add further concepts into the search box

screenshot of search example in ProQuest Biological Science Database

  • Tip: DO NOT tick the box to limit to Full Text.
  • Tip: change Anywhere to Anywhere except full text.

3. Refine your results by using the menu on the left of the page.

   Read: How to save time searching in databases
   More databases


For this assignment you need to use the Austral Ecology referencing style. Information about this style can be found in the Biological Survey Methods (BSM) – practical manual.

If you use EndNote, you can download the Austral Ecology style.

navigate to the EndNote guide

More help

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