For this course, we will explore the diversity of life, extinction events and their consequences, and the challenges and opportunities before us as stewards of the earth and its ecosystems. Biodiversity topics in this class will encompass scales ranging from populations to biomes. We will examine drivers of diversification, including geographic influence and evolution, and how diversity may be quantified. We will also review the many ways that biodiversity is important to ecological structure and function, including concepts of stability, resilience, and ecosystem services. Stressors to biodiversity (e.g., climate change, habitat destruction, and invasive species) will be analyzed, with examples of species and mass extinctions and their consequences. Principles of conservation go hand-in-hand with contemporary biodiversity issues; for this reason, we will also consider technological and planning resources used in conservation efforts. The itinerary of the Spring 2019 voyage will guide case studies throughout the semester.
Field WorkCountry: Hawaii, United States
Date: January 12, 2019
Students will travel to Ka’ena Point Natural Area Reserve where they will meet with Dr. Lindsay Young (Sr. Biologist, Pacific Rim Conservation). Dr. Young will guide the students on an overview of the Reserve and describe the public, administrative, and scientific challenges to establishing protection for the Laysan albatross, Hawai’ian monk seal, and three endangered plants, among other vulnerable species. Students will be assigned tasks to support the restoration and conservation of Ka’ena Point; tasks may include plant installation, weeding, nest observations and marking, GPS data collection, and bird banding. Learning Objectives:
- Understand the geographic, historic, and socioeconomic context of Hawai’i’s biodiversity issues as exemplified at Ka’ena Point.
- Appreciate the breadth of challenges confronting managers of natural areas (ecological, political, financial).
- Recognize the importance of multi-sector partnership in conservation and restoration projects.
- Gain exposure to careers in conservation and restoration ecology.