Field Ecology


Spring 2014 quarter

Taught by

forest and plant ecology


One year ( greater than 12 credits) of college-level biology, one year (greater than 9 credits) college-level chemistry, and one year (greater than 9 cummulative credits) of college-level algebra, precalculus, and caculus or statistics. Students should also have previous classes in introductory botany and zoology.

This program is designed to provide a premier hands-on experience on learning how to conduct field science in ecology at the advanced undergraduate level. We will focus on group and individual field research to address patterns in ecological composition, structure and function in natural environments. Students will participate in field trips to local and remote field sites and they will be expected to develop multiple independent and group research projects. During the second week of the quarter, the program will be divided into two smaller groups: a Northwest Science group and a Grand Canyon Plants group. A small group of 20 students will participate in a two-week trip to the Grand Canyon, which will include a four-day backpacking excursion and several day trips where we will conduct individual and group research related to plant ecology. Students will be selected for the Grand Canyon experience based on their application and interest.  Students in the Northwest Science group will focus on research in ornithology and Northwest ecosystems with associated workshops in research methods.

We will work as a community to develop and implement field projects based on: 1) workshops that will train students in rapid observation and field data collection; 2) participation in large multi-year studies in collaboration with other universities and agencies; and 3) student originated short- and long-term studies. Students will focus on field sampling, natural history and library research to develop workable field data collection protocols. Students will implement observation- and hypothesis-driven field projects. We will then learn to analyze ecological data through a series of workshops on understanding and using statistics. Students will demonstrate their research and analytical skills via writing and presentation of group and individual research projects. Student manuscripts will be "crystallized" through a series of intensive, multi-day paper-writing workshops at the end of the quarter. Students will also give public presentations of their research work in a final research symposium.

Specific topics of study will include community and ecosystem ecology, plant physiology, forest structure, ecological restoration, riparian ecology, fire disturbance effects, bird abundance and monitoring, insect-plant interactions, disturbance ecology and the broad fields of bio-complexity and ecological interactions. We will emphasize identification of original field research problems in diverse habitats, experimentation, data analysis, oral presentation of findings and writing in journal format.


Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

plant and wildlife ecology, environmental studies, habitat management, ecological restoration and conservation biology.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


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Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning

More information about online learning.

Required Fees

$350 (optional, determined by application) two-week field trip to the Grand Canyon, AZ.

Upper Division Science Credit

This is an upper division science credit program. Upper division science credits will be awarded based on successful completion of the program. Students who do not demonstrate a strong understanding of the prerequisites, or are not cabable of successfully completing the requirements of the program will not be eligible for upper division credit. 


Date Revision
January 29th, 2014 Link to application provided. Description updated with information about the Grand Canyon trip. Fees for students going on this trip have been reduced to $350.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Spring)

Class standing: Junior–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 50


Signature Required

Student must be assessed for their ability to meet the prerequisites. Applications are available at . Contact Alison Styring (360-867-6837) or Dylan Fischer (360-867-6509) for more information.

Course Reference Number

Jr - Sr (16 credits): 30079

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