Field Courses

Year 2: Terrestrial Ecology and Behaviour, Yorkshire Dales

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This course is based at Malham Tarn in the Yorkshire Dales and aims to give you a taste of the delights and the challenges of field research and to reinforce and expand upon the ecological, behavioural or field-based training you’ve received over your first two years at Leeds.

The estate is a National Nature Reserve and RAMSAR site of international importance. The field centre is in woodland on the edge of an upland tarn, with an adjacent raised bog and a plant-rich fen. The estate is surrounded by a magnificent limestone plateau, with some of the most spectacular upland landscape in the UK. Malham Cove and Gordale Scar – impressive limestone features with an interesting geological history – are close by.

This wide range of habitats offers a rich fauna and flora: internationally rare plants and invertebrates are found in the fen, peregrine falcons nest on Malham Cove, little owls feed in broad daylight above the cove and 200 Pipistrelle bats roost in the roof over the bedrooms; you can catch as many as five bat species in a single night! This makes it an ideal location to study a wide range of topics in behaviour and ecology.

The course is project-based with options including habitat preferences of small mammals, behavioural patterns in bats, foraging and territorial behaviour of birds, the bioacoustics of bat echolocation and bird song and web-building in spiders.

Projects may include territoriality and habitat preferences of woodland birds, the ecology of carnivorous plants, cave spiders and limestone pavement ecology. Plus there’s our infamous treasure hunt and pub quiz.

When: June, Year 2
Duration: 1 week
Location: Yorkshire Dales, UK
Optional: Biology, Zoology, Ecology and Conservation Biology.

Examples of projects:

  • Bat foraging
  • Bat echolocation call design
  • Warbler feeding/nesting ecology
  • Bird foraging behaviour
  • Chaffinch territorial behaviour
  • Bird song: call structure in relation to function and habitat
  • Moth camouflage & bird predation
  • The structure of spider webs
  • Cave spider distributions
  • Sundew feeding behaviour
  • Limestone pavement ecology
  • The intermediate disturbance hypothesis: plants near footpaths


  • Moth trapping
  • Small mammals trapping
  • Bat harp trapping
  • Bird mist-netting & ringing