This course will examine modern theory and practice in conservation ecology applied to terrestrial and freshwater habitats. The emphasis will be on field experience, supplemented by lectures including global biodiversity, ecosystem services, links between conservation and livelihoods, legislation protecting habitats and species, and local and global solutions.
Daily field visits will be made to a variety of local terrestrial and freshwater habitats that experience a range of impacts. Independent research projects will include biodiversity surveys, environmental impact assessments, and restoration techniques. The last few days will be spent working in pairs on an independent field project.
Research Skills: Students will learn modern survey and monitoring methods for streams and forests. Along the way they will learn how to identify plants and other species of interest. Students will learn how to analyze their data for group projects using R, a flexible, open-source statistical program that is widely used by ecologists but rarely taught to undergraduates.
Practical Skills:We will teach survey techniques that are similar to some of the methods used by field biologists working for environmental consulting firms and research organizations. Basic natural history identification skills are widely transferable, and a photo project on plants and some early morning bird walks will provide a start. Small group presentations will help people brush up on their Powerpoint skills and public speaking. All ecologists should learn R, and we will make it fun. Really.
Prerequisites: Third year standing in biology including basic ecology courses, or permission of the instructor.
Physical Requirements: We will be outside every day. The field trips won’t be particularly strenuous, but they will include clambering around in forests and walking in rubber boots along streams.
Expect to be in the field every day, with a single lecture on many mornings. There will be practical demonstrations of survey techniques, lots of teamwork, and occasional soakers.