Animal Ecology - The Mallee

Mallee Field Course ENV3MFC (15 credit points)

Subject dates: Semester 1

Field trip dates: Easter Monday to the following Saturday (inclusive)

Duration: 6 days

Location: Little Desert Nature Lodge, adjacent to the Little Desert National Park

Cost: There are three accommodation options, all of which include transportation around the field sites, and the cost of the evening meal on the first and last nights of the field course:

  1. Powered campsite (4 students to a site) $309 per person (b.y.o. tent and camping equipment)
  2. Four-person Bunk room $284 per person (b.y.o. linen or sleeping bag, pillow). Limited availability of 16 spaces in this kind of accommodation).
  3. Unpowered campsite (4 students to a site) $284 per person (b.y.o. tent and camping equipment)

Both campers and bunk room dwellers will use shared cooking, bathroom, shower, and toilet facilities.

What you'll learn

This course will provide you with the opportunity to conduct environmental research in the field in an important biogeographical region, namely the mallee. You will work in small groups to conduct a research project that you will develop under the guidance of a staff member.

Possible research topics include effects of habitat fragmentation upon avian, mammalian or invertebrate communities, behavioural ecology of birds and lizards, ecological responses to fire, cropping and grazing pressures, or significance of old growth mallee to faunal communities.

You will gain skills in:

  • experimental design and planning
  • hands-on experience of data collection in the field
  • team work
  • data collation and statistical analysis
  • written and oral presentation
  • SPSS computer package.


Students are responsible for arranging all their own meals during the field course (except on the first and last nights, when dinner will be provided as part of the accommodation costs). Little Desert Lodge is a fully licenced venue at which alcohol can be purchased. No BYO alcohol is allowed on the property and the proprietors will respond to any breaches of the Victorian Commission of Gambling and Liquor regulations with an immediate request to vacate the property. Limited groceries, ice, gas and take-away are available at Nhill (20km away). However, some items are likely to be more expensive than in Melbourne, so you are advised to come equipped to be as self-sufficient as possible for the week. On some days you are likely to be working in the field away from the accommodation for the entire day and lunch will be taken into the field. You need to be self-sufficient with regards to cooking equipment (gas or spirit stoves are allowed for cooking, but not wood fires) and eating utensils.

Travel information

Students make their own way to the accommodation in the Little Desert (approx 400 km from LTU Bundoora). We strongly recommend car-pooling. There will be a very limited number of places in staff cars available for students without transport.

Pre-trip and post-trip requirements

Pre-trip materials (including background reading on the mallee environment and your research topic) will be provided online.

There will be a series of weekly 2 hr pre- and post-field trip workshops  that will cover an introduction to mallee ecosystems, group work, occupational health and safety, writing a literature review and experimental design and data analysis. Submission of a literature review on the research topic is required before the field trip. Post-trip requirements will include the submission of a research report on the project conducted during the field trip.


Students will be enrolled in ENV3MFC.  
This subject has merit base quota management and pre-requisites. Students must have completed 45 credit point of second year science subjects.