Ecology [CRN 79629]

Discipline: Life Science
Instructor: Doherty
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 1100
End: 1220
Field Work: Day 5 | November 18, 2017 | Vietnam
Prerequisites: One (1) human, plant, or animal biology course AND one (1) calculus course Download Syllabus

This course will introduce you to the fundamental principles and concepts of ecology. You will learn about the mechanisms that generate ecological patterns and how organisms interact with each other and with their environment.  We will study ecology at different levels of biological organization (populations, communities, ecosystems). We will then demonstrate how basic ecological principles may be applied to the study of practical ecological problems (e.g., loss of species diversity, global warming, and water/air pollution). Many of the topics we will cover this semester are controversial, both among ecologists (e.g., the relative importance of interspecific competition in structuring communities) as well as the general public (e.g., preservation of habitat for maintenance of biotic diversity; human effects on global climate). Thus, there will be ample opportunity and material for in-class discussion. Case studies will illustrate ecological aspects of each country visited during the Semester-at-Sea voyage.

Field Work

Country: Vietnam
Day: 5
Date: November 18, 2017

Mangrove forests and estuaries provide important ecological functions as transition zones between marine and terrestrial systems, including coastal stabilization. However, such systems are under development threats and Viet Nam has lost about 1/2 of its mangrove forests. Estuaries and mangrove forests also provide habitat for a wide variety of animals and plants. We will visit the Cần Giờ Biosphere and Mangrove Forest and observe the need to balance the needs of a community with land and water natural resources. This reserve is home to several threatened species. We will contemplate how sea level rise is likely to affect the reserve, residents, and users. We will meet and interact with local ecologists.

Learning Objectives:
1. Gain experience with the ecology of mangrove forests and estuaries in Viet Nam.
2. Understand the trade-offs associated with land-use decisions.
3. Gain experience with local ecologists working on regional land planning and biodiversity issues.