Temperate Rainforests: Ecology, Chemistry and Management
Fall 2013 and Winter 2014 quarters
The Pacific Northwest is home to temperate rainforests, among the most biologically complex ecosystems in the world. How did these forests develop? How do they function? How do human activities affect them? Is sustainable harvest a reality or an oxymoron? We will use a biogeochemical lens to examine these forests, their effects on us and our impacts on them. Topics covered will include forest ecology, ecosystem ecology, soils, mycology, biogeochemistry, sustainable forestry and forest conservation.
In fall quarter, we will explore how forests “work” through studying forest ecosystem science that includes both global and regional perspectives, with a focus on carbon and nutrient cycling. We will also examine the tremendous fungal biodiversity found within temperate rainforests, particularly the local forests of the Pacific Northwest. We’ll cover methods in forest biogeochemical measurement, fungal biology, taxonomy and advanced forest ecology.
Human impacts on temperate rainforests will be the focus of winter quarter. We’ll focus on sustainable forestry, both theory and practice, along with an examination of soils and the life within them, which will deepen our understanding of forest function and the short- and long-term impacts of various forestry practices. These topics will merge as we explore carbon sequestration in forest ecosystems, which is an emerging component of “sustainable” forestry. We will explore current and past controversies in forest ecology related to old-growth forests, spotted owls and other endangered species and biofuels.
Our program time will consist of field work, laboratory work, lectures, workshops and weekly seminars. Expect to research topics in the primary scientific literature and to summarize and share your findings with the entire class. We’ll cover various sampling techniques that are used to measure nitrogen, water and carbon in forested ecosystems. There will be ample opportunities for independent directed work, both individually and in small groups.
In addition to one-day trips regularly scheduled throughout both quarters, there will be a 4-day field trip each quarter. In the fall, we’ll spend four days doing field research in temperate rainforests. In the winter, we’ll tour through the Pacific Northwest and visit a variety of managed and unmanaged forests. Plan to spend a lot of time in the field (and remember that every field day generates 3-4 days of work once we return). Students who may need accommodations for field trips should contact the faculty as soon as possible.
Fields of Study
Preparatory for studies or careers in
Location and Schedule
Offered during: Day