This course explores and evaluate collective, relevant literature and ideas of ecosystem ecology and responses to global change. The focus is on understanding human influence and dependency on ecosystem processes. The course integrates biotic interactions and abiotic processes with studies of paleoclimate and future climate change to understand the distribution and function of major landscape units. Emphasis is placed on biodiversity and ecosystem function, reconstruction of paleoclimate and past species distribution, and models that attempt to predict climate change and future species distribution. Topics covered in the course include the structure of ecosystems, energy flow and nutrient availability, biodiversity, the role of natural disturbance, all in the context of current global change.
Students will learn to design, interpret, and critically evaluate the use of stable isotopic tools. Specifically, we will focus on terminology and notation, sources of variation, models of isotope composition, and key applications of stable isotope techniques. Topics address the isotopic composition of plants, animals, soils, water, food webs, advanced techniques, plus any topics of interest to students.
Ecology is the study of the interactions between organisms and their environment, where environment includes biotic and abiotic components. The scale of study ranges from physiological characteristics of individuals to global energy and nutrient budgets. The objectives of this course are to 1) develop a conceptual understanding of biophysical, interactive processes governing organism responses to their environment, 2) use ecological principles to unify knowledge gained in other fields of biology, and 3) gain insight into questions addressed by ecologists, the scientific approach used to address these questions, and the application of these questions towards furthering our understanding of biological complexity in the face of global change.