Field Ecology

Spring 2024
Junior - Senior
Class Size: 25
16 Credits per quarter
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What are the approaches that work for developing successful ecological field science research projects? This program will focus on intensive group and individual field research on current topics in ecological science, and is designed as a capstone experience for students taking a Ecology, Plant Biology, or Environmental Science Path. These topics will include forest structure, ecosystem ecology, effects of forest management, ecological restoration, riparian ecology, fire history, plant community abundance and monitoring, insect-plant interactions, and disturbance ecology. Students will be expected to intensively use the primary literature and student-driven field research to address observations about ecological composition, structure, and function. Multiple independent and group research projects will form the core of our work in local forests of the South Puget Sound lowlands, National Forests, National Parks, State Forests, and other relevant natural settings. Students are expected to hit the ground running and should develop research projects for the entire quarter within the first several weeks of the program.

Through a series of short, intensive field exercises, students will hone their skills in observation, developing testable hypotheses, and designing ways to test those hypotheses. We will also explore field techniques and approaches in ecology, and especially approaches related to measuring plant communities. Students will also participate in a 12-day field trip to remote sites in the Pacific Northwest or Southwestern US. Previous field trip locations have been either the Sinlahekin Valley (North-Central WA), Central Oregon, or the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Research projects will be formally presented by groups and individuals at the end of the quarter. Finally, student research manuscripts will be created throughout the quarter, utilizing a series of intensive multi-day paper-writing workshops. We will emphasize identification of original field research problems in forest habitats, experimentation, data analyses, oral presentation of findings, and writing in scientific journal format.



This program assumes that students are ready for upper-division work in the sciences. Students should have prior lower-division experiences in chemistry, biology, and/or math. Students should consult directly with the faculty before enrolling if they have not taken any lower division offerings in biology. 

Spring 2024 Registration

Academic details

Fields of Study
Preparatory for studies and careers in

Studies or careers in plant ecology, ecology, biology environmental science, forestry, habitat management, ecological restoration, and conservation biology

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing

a $300 fee covers permits, transportation, camping and fees for 12-day field trip mid-quarter. The fee does not cover food. 

Upper Division Science Credit

Upper-division science credit may be awarded in forest science, statistics, and plant ecology upon completion of the program. Upper-division credits will be given for upper-division work at the discretion of the faculty.


In Person or Remote
In Person
Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule