Riding the Carbon Cycle from the Mountains to the Sea
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Carbon is an essential element in all life processes and plays an important role in global climate regulation. The goal of this program is to understand the carbon cycle using the approaches of ecology and biogeochemistry. We will examine the chemical transformations of carbon compounds and nutrients as they are transported by water from mountains to the sea, using the Puget Sound region as a natural laboratory. The role that organisms in various ecosystems play in these transformations through the production and utilization of organic matter will be emphasized. Winter quarter will develop introductory concepts and methods in ecology and biogeochemistry and will apply them to studying various themes such as the role of nutrients in determining the productivity of aquatic ecosystems and how changes in carbon fluxes result in global climate change and ocean acidification. In spring we will apply the material developed in winter to examine current research in aquatic ecology and on past and present global climate change. In addition, students will conduct faculty-designed research projects in the field.
In addition to lectures, the material will be developed through seminar, laboratory exercises, and fieldwork. Seminar will focus on examining current environmental issues and on developing skills to critically read and analyze scientific literature. Lab and fieldwork will teach survey and sampling methods in freshwater and marine environments, microscopy (to study organisms), and water quality analysis (e.g. inorganic nutrients, oxygen, carbon, turbidity, etc.). Students will also learn basic statistical tests to analyze their data. We will take field trips to the Evergreen campus streams, shores of Puget Sound, Nisqually watershed (including the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge), and a multi-day field trip to the Olympic Peninsula to explore freshwater and marine ecosystems. Students will develop their writing and presentation skills through writing and presenting results of their studies. Spring research projects will study local aquatic habitats, applying the methods and concepts developed in the program. Credit equivalencies in this program include ecology, chemistry (biogeochemistry), and research methodology in aquatic sciences.
This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:
biology (ecological fields in freshwater and marine sciences) and environmental chemistry (environmental consulting, water quality analyses).
Credits per quarter
1) Two quarters of introductory biology and two quarters of introductory chemistry, or 2) the fall quarter program Environmental Science Foundations: Aquatic Systems .
- Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.
$250 in winter for a multi-day field trips.
Upper division science credit:
In spring quarter, upper division science credit may be awarded in ecology and/or biogeochemistry upon completion of an independent research project.
Class Size: 50
Scheduled for: Day
Located in: Olympia