Plant Ecology and Physiology


Winter 2016 quarter

Taught by

How do plants sense and respond to changes in their external environment? What are the chemical signals produced by plants in response to external stimuli (light, gravity, temperature) and how are these signals amplified within the larger plant community? This program focuses on these questions through the study of individual plants (autecology), the interactions among plants (synecology), and the physiological interactions of plants with their environment (ecophysiology). Students will learn field and laboratory methods for studying plant ecology and plant physiology including vegetation sampling methods, soil analysis and methods for measuring plant growth, photosynthesis and nutrient cycling. Lecture topics will include plant communities; competition and facilitation ecology; plant growth and development; plant hormones; water use; photosynthesis; rooting; and the potential effects of large-scale disturbances, such as climate change, on plant communities. We will apply what we learn about plant physiology to better understand current research in the broader fields of ecosystem and community ecology. Our readings will be divided between current widely used texts in plant physiology and ecology, historical papers of great importance, and current research papers from technical journals. Local day trips, workshops, labs, and a multiple-day field trip will allow us to observe field research on plant physiology, plant restoration, and the plant ecology of diverse environments, as well as conduct student-driven research on plant ecology and physiology.

This is also a writing intensive program for technical science writing. Communication skills will be emphasized, particularly reading scientific articles and writing for scientific audiences.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

biology, botany, ecology, environmental studies, field studies, natural history, and technical writing.

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 for an optional multi-day field trip.

Upper Division Science Credit

Upper-division science credit may be awarded in all areas of the program with satisfactory completion of all program work.


Date Revision
November 2nd, 2015 Lalita Calabria joins the teaching team; enrollment has increased.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Winter)

Class standing: Sophomore–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 50


Course Reference Numbers

So (16 credits): 20141
Jr (16 credits): 20142
Sr (16 credits): 20143

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