Warren G. Gold
Introduces students to methods used in the analysis of ecological systems and their processes. Employs data analysis tools, graphic presentation, and scientific writing in the presentation of results from laboratory and field studies. Includes lectures, laboratory work, and field investigations. Prerequisite: BES 312.
Spring 2012 This course is designed to provide an experiential introduction to ecological research in the laboratory and field (an outdoor setting). Field and lab work will be coupled with classroom examination of underlying ecological principles. Students can expect to learn about the application of the scientific method to ecological research, microenvironmental, habitat, and plant community analysis. Students will also gain experience with data collection, analysis, presentation, and scientific writing.
Student learning goals
Students will learn to analyze plant communities in terms of their organization and function.
Students will learn to analyze microenvironments and abiotic characteristics of animal habitats.
Students will learn to collect, critically analyze, and present ecological data.
Students will learn how to measure selected soil edaphic characteristics and their relationships to plant communities.
Students will learn how to collect, sort and identify stream benthic macroinvertebrates and interpret stream health from such data.
General method of instruction
The first portion of the course will be devoted to study and training in ecological methods and basic scientific skills. This will include lectures and data collection and analysis. We will be outside most weeks. The second part of the course will focus around a field research project using the skills gained during the first half. Field work will take place in small groups or pairs, but written assignments will be individual products. Field work will take place in local sites, sometimes requiring work in heavy brush and unfavorable weather conditions.
The last few weeks of the course will be open class periods for your final project, but some of the final project field work will probably need to be scheduled and accomplished outside of class with your group / partner.
This is a companion course to BES 312 - Ecology. You should have taken BES 312 previously (or an equivalent with instructor permission). You are also expected to have had a basic course in statistics. This course is for science students - it is a rigorous science course and is not appropriate for those simply wishing to fulfill a general academic requirement. You should be familiar with Microsoft Excel (or willing to learn it) as we will be using that software for data handling.
Class assignments and grading
Assignments will include lab reports from most of the first 5-6 labs and a final paper (or possibly presentation) on the field project.
Grades are based upon the lab reports and final paper.