Ecology is the scientific study of interactions among organisms and of organisms with their physical environment. We will study ecology from an evolutionary perspective, including physiological ecology, community ecology and biodiversity, and coevolution. The goal of this program is to develop an understanding of the fundamentals of ecological and evolutionary processes, and to be able to analyze and critically read about ecological research.
By the end of this program, students should understand key concepts of how organisms interact with their physical environment and with other organisms, at different levels of biological organization from cells to individuals, populations, communities, and ecosystems. They should be able to apply the scientific method for evaluating alternative hypotheses and explanations and have basic understanding of the role of probability and statistics in hypothesis testing. They should understand the role of evolutionary biology as a core concept in ecology and be able to apply theoretical concepts to specific examples.
Readings will be primarily from peer-reviewed journal articles available online. We will focus our studies on foundational articles in research and theory that had substantial and lasting effects on the development of ecological thinking. We'll come to understand how the work challenged and advanced the thinking of its time. Students will conduct additional research in the current scientific study of ecology to investigate how our thinking has changed and progressed beyond the knowledge and concepts in those foundational articles.
Course Reference Numbers
Upper division science credits are possible with specific expectations to be established in discussion between the student and the faculty. Students should check in with the faculty regularly throughout the quarter to ensure that their work is meeting agreed-upon expectations.