In this course students will gain an understanding of the major ecological issues facing the human population. We will examine the topics of: 1) population growth, resource use and environmental sustainability, 2) biodiversity, and 3) global climate change. Our discussion will emphasize the interrelated nature of these issues, with a specific focus on the Mediterranean region. We will begin by developing an understanding of the basic ecological processes that govern natural ecosystems, and then explore how human activities are impacting those processes. In exploring each of these issues we will emphasizes the application of the basic science of ecology to the understanding and mitigation of current environmental problems.
Field WorkCountry: Portugal
The Natural Park of Arrábida is located south of Lisbon, between the cities of Setúbal, Palmela and Sesimbra. The Park covers an area of 17,300 ha with a diverse geography of limestone mountain ridges and adjacent valleys. This Nature Park has some of the best examples of the Mediterranean scrubland vegetation (maquis) that characterizes this region. We will be guided on a walk through this ecosystem by a Park naturalist who will provide an overview of the ecology of the region and the role of the Park in the broader program of biodiversity conservation with Portugal and the Mediterranean region. We will then move on to the coastal region of the Park to visit the Oceanographic Museum, located in Santa Maria fort (17th century) in Portinho da Arrábida. Our field trip will end with a visit to the Professor Luiz Saldanha Marine Park (also part of the Natural Park of Arrábida) which has been classified as a marine biodiversity hotspot, with more than 1000 species of marine fauna and flora.