Freshwater Ecology and Aquatic Entomology (Remote/In-Person)

Winter 2021
Sophomore - Senior
Class Size: 25
12 Credits per quarter
Variable credit options, see below
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Freshwater habitats rank as some of the most imperiled ecosystems on Earth. They have been heavily used for transportation, irrigation, energy production, waste disposal and recreation. Due to their fragile nature and disproportionate importance on the landscape, it is important to understand how freshwater ecosystems function and how we can restore freshwater habitats. This program will focus on freshwater ecology concepts and methods in streams and rivers, with some extensions to lakes and wetlands. Topics covered will include: hydrology, water chemistry, ecosystem processes, aquatic organisms, trophic dynamics, stable isotope ecology, ecological interactions, organic matter and nutrient dynamics, current threats to freshwater ecosystems and riparian restoration. The course will focus on current research in ecosystem ecology, community ecology, ecological genetics, and terrestrial-aquatic interactions. If possible given Covid-19 restrictions, students will learn relevant field and laboratory methods in freshwater ecology via in-person instruction on campus. If in-person work is challenging, students will be provided with materials to do some field and laboratory work from home.

Aquatic entomology focuses on the insects and other invertebrates that call aquatic habitats home. Students will learn about basic anatomy and taxonomy of aquatic invertebrates, evolution & biogeography, biomechanics and locomotion, feeding strategies, diet and metabolism, reproduction and development, and sensory systems. Students will have opportunities to learn aquatic invertebrate taxonomy through hands-on work and microscopy, either using home lab set-ups or possibly on-campus lab time. They will learn to identify aquatic insects to order, family, and lower taxonomic levels using dichotomous keys. Students will either set up home laboratories or, if possible, meet on-campus in microscopy labs for aquatic insect identification and sketching important features.

Students will have the opportunity to learn basic parametric and non-parametric statistical methods to analyze data collected in the field or the laboratory. Students will learn concepts in Statistics I and II at an accelerated pace over the course of 10 weeks. Students will learn to apply these concepts to data they collect in the field and laboratory. Concepts will include probability, basic summary statistics, and a suite of nonparametric and parametric statistical tests: Student’s t-tests, Analysis of Variance, Linear Regression, Correlation, Advanced ANOVA, classification and regression tree (CART) models, non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) ordinations, and meta-analysis techniques. We will collect data in the field and use statistical methods to explore and explain patterns in the data. We will learn to create useful figures and interpret statistical findings. 

This program is designed for students who have a strong background in college-level biology and chemistry and an interest in applying ecological principles to freshwater ecosystems. The program is modular and will allow students (with faculty permission – ) to take separate parts of the program as 4-credit modules: 4*- Freshwater Ecology, upper division; 4* - Aquatic Entomology, upper division; or 4 - Statistics I/II: Accelerated, lower division.

For students interested in the entire 12-credit program, they will have the opportunity to apply theory to practice through the development of field research projects that blend freshwater ecology, aquatic entomology, and statistics in freshwater ecosystems near their home or on campus, and so will have the opportunity to earn 12 upper division credits.  

To be successful in this program, students should have a laptop (mac or PC) with reliable internet connection (a chromebook will not be sufficient - contact the faculty with questions). The majority of the work in the program will be asynchronous (meaning you can complete it at your own pace on your own schedule). There will be about four hours of synchronous scheduled video conferencing (possibly two hours of on-campus lab time) and possibly three hours of synchronous field work each week. Video conferencing will be used to build community and provide opportunities for students to ask faculty questions and work together on problem-solving. If possible given Covid-19 restrictions, we may meet in the field on campus or in lab for part of two days each week. If students find themselves unable to participate in the synchronous or on-campus meetings due to technology, living situations, care-giving obligations, economic disruption, health risk, or illness, they can work with faculty to pursue alternate options to earn related credit.



Students need to have a foundation in both college-level biology and chemistry to understand Freshwater Ecology and Aquatic Entomology. Students need to have successfully completed at least 2 quarters of General Biology and 2 quarters of General Chemistry to earn upper division credit in this program.

No prerequisites are required for the study of statistics.

Winter 2021 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (12): 20259

Academic details

Preparatory For

Ecology, Biology, and Environmental Sciences

Variable Credit Options

Students can choose from the following:

4* - Freshwater Ecology (can be separate 4-credit module)
4* - Aquatic Entomology (can be separate 4-credit module)
4 - Stats I/II: Accelerated (can be separate, lower division 4-credit module)

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing

If on-campus work is not possible, a $75 student fee will be used to send students field and laboratory gear for use in home lab and field exercises.

Upper Division Science Credit

Upper division science credit will be awarded for the completion of upper division work across components of the program. Students need to have a foundation in both college-level biology and chemistry to understand Freshwater Ecology and Aquatic Entomology. Students need to have successfully completed at least 2 quarters of General Biology and 2 quarters of General Chemistry to earn upper division credit in this program.


Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting