Fundamentals of Ecology [CRN 31303]

Discipline: Life Science
Instructor: Sherrod
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 1400
End: 1520
Field Work: Day 1 | January 31, 2019 | China
Prerequisites: One (1) 3-credit college-level biology course AND one (1) 3-credit college-level mathematics course Download Syllabus

Ecology is the exploration of the myriad interactions among organisms and their environments. The goal of this Ecology course is to familiarize you with basic ecology concepts and equip you with tools to apply them at different scales (local to global), to various environments (terrestrial, aquatic, and urban), and in the field at ports of call. We will consider the perspectives of various ecological subdisciplines (e.g., ecosystem, landscape, community, population, microbial) throughout the course to best understand the many ways to study and describe ecological dynamics. Global and regional trends in climate, productivity, biome distribution, and biodiversity will be revisited throughout the course in anticipation of each port.  Energy, nutrients, and water are unifying themes that will guide our studies of ecosystem productivity, environmental controls, trophic interactions, decomposition, soil development, watershed science, and pollution.  Concepts of diversity, disturbance theory, and restoration will also be discussed.  Each student will specialize in one case study, to be informed by the Spring 2019 itinerary.

This class is also offered as LAND 220, through CSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Landscape Architecture.

Field Work

Country: China
Day: 1
Date: January 31, 2019

Students will learn about the diversity of habitats within the Yangtze River Watershed and about local conservation initiatives. Three Gorges Dam was a major recent disruption to Yangtze watershed function, but unprecedented economic growth represents a stress of similar or greater magnitude. Numerous habitats (e.g., high-altitude forests, the estuary to the East China Sea, and wetlands) will be discussed as well as iconic species including the snow leopard, giant panda, and Yangtze finless porpoise. The class will have an opportunity to meet with representatives of The Nature Conservancy, China, as well as visit urban wetland parks in the city of Shanghai.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Recognize the ‘aortic’ importance of rivers and how they tie together ecological features and functions upstream to downstream and at multiple scales of analysis.
  2. Analyze the direct and indirect impacts of different disturbances to ecosystem structure and function within the Yangtze River watershed.
  3. Evaluate the goals, objectives, and effectiveness of local conservation efforts.