Field Ecology (remote/in-person*)
What are the approaches that work for developing successful ecological field science research projects? This upper-division science program will focus on intensive group and individual field research on current topics in ecological science. The program is designed as a capstone experience for students in Ecology, Plant Biology, or Environmental Science fields of study.
In 2021 students will develop one remote group-work research project (though analysis of long-term, publicly-available, research data) and one individual field research project at a local field site. Topics may include forest structure, ecosystem ecology, effects of forest management, invasive species ecology, ecological restoration, riparian ecology, fire history, plant community ecology, 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. These group and independent research projects will form the core of our work in local natural settings.
Students are expected to hit the ground running and should develop research ideas for the entire quarter quickly and efficiently following introductions to each project. *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. Research projects will be formally presented by groups and individuals at the end of the quarter. Finally, student research will be supported in multiple ways including paper-writing discussions, peer-review, and a research symposium at the end of the quarter. We will emphasize identification of original field research problems, experimentation, data analyses, oral presentation of findings, and writing in scientific journal format.
To successfully participate in this program, students will need a home computer, laptop, Chromebook, or iPad. Contact faculty for help if this is an obstacle. The program will include options for in-person video conferencing (approximately four hours per week), and multiple options using online technology for lecture content, group work, and coursework. Students will need to be able to access either JMP statistics, or R and R Studio statistics packages on home Mac or PC computers, or via the cloud. The programs R and R Studio are free to everyone, and also work on Macs and PCs. Students can also work in RStudio Cloud (https://rstudio.cloud) which works via the web using a tablet or Chromebook. Chromebooks are available for check-out at the Evergreen Library. Examples of other remote technology that will be used include Zoom, Canvas, YouTube, iNaturalist, Google platforms, Excel, ArcGIS Online, and Google Earth Engine.
One year (greater than 12 credits) of college-level biology, one year (greater than 9 credits) of college-level chemistry, and one year (greater than 9 cumulative credits) of college-level algebra, precalculus, and calculus or statistics. Students should also have previous credits in botany, taxonomy, and zoology. Ability to use plant taxonomic keys is especially encouraged.
Course Reference Numbers
plant and wildlife ecology, environmental studies, habitat management, ecological restoration, and conservation biology
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.