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THE SYLLABUS FOR THE FIELD GUIDE LEVEL II CATEGORY

The level 2 guide should be able to point out and explain in terms of elementary scientific theory and cultural belief, the features of the natural environment in which s/he operates and putting it into broader ecological context.

As a general guideline, the level of scientific understanding is intermediate between level 1 and 3.  This qualification is distinguished from the level 1 category predominantly on the depth of knowledge required on similar topics.  The Level 2 guide will need to know all the information contained in the Level 1 syllabus as well as the information in the level 2 syllabus.
 


THE FGASA LEVEL 2 SYLLABUS INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING MODULES:

  • Creating a guided nature experience
  • Geology
  • Astronomy
  • Weather and Climate
  • Ecology
  • Taxonomy
  • The Biomes of Southern Africa
  • Botany and Grasses
  • Arthropods
  • Amphibians
  • Reptiles
  • Fish
  • Birds
  • Mammals
  • Animal behaviour
  • Conservation Management
  • Historical Human Habitation

MODULE 1 CREATING A GUIDED NATURE EXPERIENCE

The objectives
On completion of this module you will:
 
  • Be able to carry out a pre-briefing before embarking on a guided experience.
  • Be aware of determining any medical considerations of your clients.
  • Be able to determine if your clients have any special interests before departing on the guided experience.
  • Have the ability to involve all of your clients as individuals in the guided experience.
  • Take into consideration the environmental factors when it comes to the comfort of your clients.
  • Have enhanced communication skills for guiding in the natural environment.
  • Be able to carry out research on potentially interesting sites.
  • Approach animals taking into consideration all the client and animal factors which will affect the approach.
  • Be able to orientate yourself during the day and at night making use of a number of methods to do so.
  • Know what procedures to follow when lost and have the ability to find water and edible food in the natural environment.
  • Be able to interpret all aspects of the natural environment to enhance the experience of your clients.

MODULE 2 GEOLOGY

The objectives
On completion of this module you will:
 
  • Know what soil is.
  • Have an understanding of and be able to explain soil ecosystems.
  • Understand how soils are formed.
  • Know what the properties of soil are.
  • Have an understanding of the soil profile (horizons) and be able to label a profile.
  • Know the differences between weathering and erosion.
  • Have an understanding of the different types of erosion.
  • Have an understanding of the different types of weathering.
  • Understand the water retention properties of soils.
 


MODULE 3 ASTRONOMY (NIGHT SKY)

The objectives
On completion of this module you will:
 
  • Be able to understand by definition what is meant by a universe, galaxy and solar system, stars, planets and meteors (shooting stars).
  • Know the position of the eight planets in the solar system in terms of their distance from the Sun.
  • Be able to point out the constellations of Orion, Scorpio and the Southern Cross and number of constellations found around the Southern Cross (The Jewel Box, The Coal Sac, Omega Centauri, Beta Centauri, Alpha Centauri, The Megallanic Clouds, Achernar, Canopus).
  • Be able to point other constellations, namely; Canis major, Canis minor, Taurus, Hyades, the Seven sisters, Gemini, Leo and Capella.
  • Be able to explain why the moon appears to change in size and colour as it rises.
  • Be able to desbe the phases of the moon as it is viewed from Earth.
  • Know what is meant by an eclipse and how to differentiate between a lunar and a solar eclipse in terms of the positioning of the Sun, Earth and Moon.
  • Know how the ocean tides are affected by the moon.
  • Know what the term “Blue Moon” refers to.
  • Be able to give an explanation of comets, what they consist of, how they form and their orbits.
  • Know what a Solar wind is.
 
 


MODULE 4 WEATHER AND CLIMATE

The objectives
On completion of this module you will:
 
  • Know what the Earth’s atmosphere is and know what the different layers of the atmosphere consist of.
  • Understand how wind is formed and the forces that affect wind (Air pressure, Coriolis effect).
  • Know what wind speed is and how it is measured according to the Beaufort wind speed scale.
  • Be able to explain how winds are named and name wind according to compass direction.
  • Be able to explain the wind chill factor and give an explanation for air temperature and what affects changes in temperature.
  • Understand how local and regional wind systems develop and the effect they have on the local weather patterns.
  • Be able to explain different frontal weather systems and the associated weather conditions (Cold front, Warm front and an Occlusion).
  • Have an understanding of how the oceans affect the South African weather systems.
  • Have a brief understanding of the seasonal weather systems of Southern Africa.
  • Be able to describe the four major influences on the South African climate.
  • Understand the general rainfall patterns for Summer and Winter in Southern Africa.

MODULE 5 ECOLOGY

The objectives
On completion of this module you will:

  • Know what the principle spheres of the Earth are (Lithosphere, Atmosphere, Hydrosphere, Biosphere).
  • Have an understanding of how the different spheres interact.
  • Be able to explain the Hydrological cycle.
  • Be able to explain the Oxygen cycle showing an understanding of photosynthesis.
  • Be able to give brief explanations to show an understanding of the carbon and nitrogen cycles.
  • Understand what ecological niches are and be able to give examples.
  • Be able to name and explain the limiting factors within ecosystems (Light, Climate, Soil, Fire and Toxins)
  • Be able to give an explanation of Shelford’s Law of ecological tolerance.


MODULE 6 TAXONOMY

The objectives
On completion of this module you will:
 
  • Know what the meaning of taxonomy is.
  • Have an understanding of why and how living organisms are classified.
  • Be able to give a brief history of taxonomy.
  • Know what binomial nomenclature is.
  • Be able to name the six kingdoms of living organisms and give examples of each.
  • Know that each organism is placed into a particular kingdom based on three criteria; namely, Body structure, Method of obtaining food and Method of reproduction.
  • Know what a Prokaryote and a Eukaryote is.
  • Be able to place living organisms covered in this syllabus into the six kingdom system.

MODULE 7 THE BIOMES OF SOUTHERN AFRICA

The objectives
On completion of this module you will:
 
  • Understand how a biome is defined.
  • Be able to name the nine major biomes in southern Africa and give a brief explanation as to where they occur.
  • Be able to explain the biomes in terms of the amount of seasonal rainfall and temperature.
  • Show a clear understanding of the main vegetation types (growth forms / veld types / plant communities) occurring within each of South Africa’s major biomes.
  • Know what the main indicator species are for each of the biomes in terms of animals and dominant vegetation types.

MODULE 8 BOTANY AND GRASSES

The objectives
On completion of this module you will:
 
  • Have a brief understanding of how plants are classified.
  • Be able to give a brief explanation for Bacteria, Algae, Fungi and Lichens with examples.
  • Have an understanding of plant reproduction and know the general lifecycle of a flowering plant.
  • Be able to label a common flower and understand the function of all the parts of a flower.
  • Be able to briefly describe plant processes; namely, Photosynthesis, Respiration and Transpiration.
  • Know the anatomy of a tree.
  • Know how to identify a tree and thus be able to apply this knowledge to identify any tree in southern Africa.
  • Be able to give some interesting facts about trees in terms of general uses, medicinal uses and traditional beliefs associated with specific trees.
  • Know the anatomy of a grass plant.
  • Be able to briefly explain the ecology of grasses.
  • Know how to identify a grass plant and thus be able to apply this knowledge to identify any grass plant in southern Africa.
  • Know the differences between sweetveld, sourveld and mixed veld.
  • Be able to define Pioneer, Sub-climax and Climax plant communities.
  • Be able to explain grassland succession, retrogression.
  • Understand what is meant by the ecological status and the grazing value of grasses.
  • Be able to give examples of grasses in your area of guiding operation and give the grazing status, grazing value and plant succession status of each.

MODULE 9 ARTHROPODS (INSECTS AND RELATIVES)

The objectives
On completion of this module you will:
 
  • Have a brief understanding of how arthropods are classified.
  • Know the characteristics of arthropods.
  • Know what the characteristics of insects are.
  • Be able to explain the three different types of insect life-cycles and give examples of each.
  • Understand why insects are so successful and the ecological importance of insects.
  • Have an understanding of insect flight.
  • Have an understanding of insect mouthparts and feeding behaviour.
  • Be able to identify common insect orders.
  • Be able to give basic characteristics of Dragonflies, Grasshoppers, Crickets, Katydids, Cicadas, Glow-worms/Fireflies, Stick insects, Mantids, Termites, Butterflies, Moths, Beetles, Blowflies, Mosquitoes, Ants, Wasps, Bees.
  • Be able to explain the difference between insects and spiders.
  • Have a brief understanding of how Arachnids are classified.
  • Know the characteristics of spiders and be able to place spiders into the two main sub-orders.
  • Know how to recognise the venomous spiders in South Africa which are of medical importance to human beings and know what type of venom they have.
  • Be able to briefly describe reproduction and growth in spiders.
  • Know the characteristics of Solifuges and Whipscorpions and why they are not true spiders or scorpions.
  • Know what the characteristics of scorpions are and be able to name the four main families of scorpions.
  • Be able to describe reproduction and general mating behaviour of scorpions.
  • Know the general characteristics of ticks and mites including feeding habits.
  • Be able to explain the three types of tick life cycles, namely; one-host tick, two-host tick and three-host tick.
  • Know what the differences are between Millipedes and Centipedes and their particular feeding behaviour.
 


MODULE 10 AMPHIBIANS (FROGS AND TOADS)

The objectives
On completion of this module you will:
 
  • Know the characteristics of the class of amphibians and have a brief understanding of their classification.
  • Be able to explain the differences between frogs and toads.
  • Understand the life cycle of frogs and toads and be able to explain metamorphosis.
  • Be able to explain mating postures, nests and types of eggs of both frogs and toads.
  • Be able to explain the difference between the eggs of toads and frogs.
  • Understand the advantages of having a jelly egg covering.
  • Be able to explain countershading in frogs eggs.
  • Have an understanding of the feeding behaviour of frogs and toads.
  • Be able to name and explain the different types of frog calls.
  • Be able to identify the common frogs by their calls.
  • Be able to identify the common frogs in the areas of operation.
  • Be able to give interesting information about the common species of frogs and toads.
  • Know how many species of frogs and toads occur in South Africa and know what the largest and smallest amphibians are in South Africa.

MODULE 11 REPTILES

The objectives
On completion of this module you will:
 
  • Know the characteristics of the class of reptiles.
  • Be able to identify the features of the three reptile orders.
  • Be able to identify the features of Turtles, Tortoises and Terrapins.
  • Be able to explain the breeding and feeding behaviour of chelonians in your area of operation.
  • Know how to distinguish between male and female tortoises.
  • Be able to briefly explain the characteristics of chameleons in terms of colour changes, breeding behaviour and feeding behaviour.
  • Be able to identify the features of skinks, lizards, agamas, geckos, chameleons, monitors and snakes.
  • Know how to identify the more common species of snakes as well as the potentially lethal families and species of snakes.
  • Be able to name the different types of snake venom, symptoms and effects.
  • Be able to classify snakes in terms of the different teeth structures.
  • Know the different types of reproduction in snakes.
  • Have a basic understanding of the senses of snakes.
  • Be able to give some interesting information regarding common snake species.
  • Be able to explain the characteristics of the Nile crocodile.
  • Have an understanding of how the crocodile throat valve works.
  • Have an understanding of the cooling mechanism of the Nile crocodile.
  • Be able to explain the feeding behaviour of crocodiles.
  • Be able to show an understanding of crocodile breeding behaviour.

MODULE 12 FISH

The objectives
On completion of this module you will:
 
  • Know what a fish is.
  • Be able to label the external anatomy of a fish.
  • Understand the ecological importance of fish.
  • Be able to explain how fish reproduce and grow.
  • Know the different types of fish feeding behaviour.
  • Understand how fish move through water.
  • Be able to explain fish senses in terms of eyesight, smell, taste and hearing.
  • Be able to give a brief explanation for pigment and colour in fish.
  • Be able to explain the concepts of neutral buoyancy and the swim bladder.
  • Know how the lateral line system works in fish and why it is important.
  • Be able to identify common species of fish.

MODULE 13 BIRDS

The objectives
On completion of this module you will:
 
  • Know the characteristics of the class of birds.
  • Have a brief understanding of how birds are classified.
  • Be able to give a basic explanation of commonly displayed bird behaviour.
  • Be able to explain bird senses; eyesight and hearing.
  • Know how the bird digestive system works.
  • Be able to explain the different bird mating systems and give examples; Monogamy and Polygamy. 
  • Be able to explain co-operative breeding and give examples of species that make use of this.
  • Have a brief understanding of bird migration and make use of examples to illustrate the three types of bird migration.

MODULE 14 MAMMALS

Common species of mammals to be studied:
  • Chacma baboon, Vervet monkey, Lesser bushbaby, Thick-tailed bushbaby.

Choice of common species in area of operation of:

Hare, Rabbit, Squirrel, Hyena, Small cat species, Otter, Genet, Mongoose, Dassie (Hyrax), Zebra.


You need to have knowledge of antelope species specific to your area of operation.
 


MODULE 15 ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR

The objectives
On completion of this module you will:
 
  • Be able to give an explanation of the fundamentals of animal behaviour.
  • Be able to explain the use of Jacobson’s organ in animals, making use of examples.
  • Have an understanding of the various types of animal protective behaviour.
  • Have a brief understanding of animal courtship displays.
  • Be able to give a brief explanation of animal mating behaviour.
  • Be able to give an explanation of parental care in animals making use of examples.
  • Be able to give an explanation of agonistic animal behaviour.
  • Be able to explain the differences between animal home-ranges and territories.
  • Be able to identify and interpret animal signs and sounds.

MODULE 16 CONSERVATION MANAGEMENT

The objectives
On completion of this module you will:
 
  • Know what conservation practices are used in the natural environment.
  • Understand why and how these conservation practices are carried out.
  • Understand what the main objectives are for the use of fire as a management tool.
  • Be able to define the different types of fires and factors that influence the behaviour of fire.
  • Be able to explain bush encroachment and alien plant control and the various methods used for clearing bush.
  • Be able to give an explanation for erosion control and road maintenance in the natural environment.
  • Be able to give a brief explanation of animal population control.
  • Give a brief explanation of water provision and water-hole rotation.
  • Know what a Transfrontier/Peace park is and be able to name the transfrontier parks in Southern Africa.
  • Know what a Biosphere Reserve is, why they are established and be able to give some examples of working Biosphere reserves.

MODULE 17 HISTORICAL HUMAN HABITATION

The objectives
On completion of this module you will:
 
  • Have knowledge and an understanding of the Iron Age sites within the National Parks of South Africa.
  • Have knowledge and an understanding of the Stone Age sites within the National Parks of South Africa.
  • Be able to give a brief explanation of the early history of human habitation in and around the National Parks of South Africa (For assessment purposes you will need to know the early history of human habitation in one National Park of your choice).
  • South Africa’s World heritage sites.


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