Freshwater Ecology and Hydrology

Fall 2021
Winter 2022
Sophomore - Senior
Class Size: 50
16 Credits per quarter
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Rivers and streams rank as some of the most imperiled ecosystems on Earth. They have been heavily impacted by transportation, agricultural and forest practices, energy production, waste disposal and recreation. Due to both high extinction rates of freshwater species and projected influences of climate change on the hydrologic cycle, it is crucial to understand both how freshwater ecosystems function and how stream ecosystems can be restored. This program will cover freshwater ecology and hydrologic concepts to understand rivers from a landscape perspective and to understand how streams, lakes, wetlands and groundwater interact with terrestrial ecosystems. We will investigate the impacts of local geology, land-use practices (logging, urbanization, agriculture), and how terrestrial disturbances (forest fires, landslides, insect outbreaks) influence water quantity and quality.

This program will cover freshwater ecology in streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands. A major focus will be on research methods in both the field and the lab. Topics covered will include: water chemistry, ecosystem processes, aquatic insect identification, trophic dynamics, ecological interactions, organic matter and nutrient dynamics, current threats to freshwater ecosystems and ecological restoration. The course will focus on current research in ecosystem ecology, community ecology, ecological genetics, and terrestrial-aquatic interactions.

This program will cover components of the hydrologic cycle, including precipitation, evaporation & transpiration, infiltration, runoff, the role of groundwater and stream flow. Erosion, sediment transport, deposition and stream channel morphology will also be examined. These topics will be considered through the lens of climate change and the direct relationship between hydrology and freshwater ecology. 

Numerical and spatial data analysis will be emphasized. Students will be expected to collect and analyze data associated with group research projects. Students will learn how to calculate descriptive statistics, understand probability and probability distribution functions, perform inferential statistics and more advanced statistical methods using various statistical software packages. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) will be used to analyze and display spatial data. Students will be introduced to ArcGIS Pro and the basics of remote sensing.

Seminar readings will focus on human-freshwater interactions and regionally important freshwater topics in the Pacific Northwest. Field trips will be undertaken regardless of weather conditions to local freshwater environments. This program will include extensive work in the field, the lab, and the computer lab.

The program will be a blend of synchronous and asynchronous activities.  To be successful in this program, students should have a laptop (mac or PC) with reliable internet connection and a working microphone and camera. If students find themselves unable to participate in any synchronous video conference 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.



To take this program, you need to have a foundation in biology, chemistry, and mathematics at the college-level. That foundation requires that you have taken two quarters of college-level General Biology with labs, two quarters of college-level General Chemistry with labs, and two quarters of pre-Calculus.

Fall 2021 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16): 10219
Winter 2022 Registration

Signature Required

Students with some preparation in Ecology, Hydrology, Statistics and GIS may be admitted with a Faculty Signature for Winter quarter.

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16): 20184

Academic details

Preparatory For

Ecology, environmental science, wildlife biology, conservation, hydrology and other earth and life sciences. 

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing

$50 both quarters for lab fees

Upper Division Science Credit

All program material will be presented at an upper-division level for students completing both quarters. Student work demonstrating competence at this level should receive 16 credits of upper-division science in both quarters; no upper division credit is guaranteed. Anticipated areas where credits may be awarded across the two quarters are: Hydrology; Freshwater Ecology; Geographic Information Systems (GIS); Research Projects & Scientific Writing; Statistics (students only completing one quarter will receive lower-division credit in statistics).

Research Opportunities

Students will have opportunities to engage in small-group research projects that integrate freshwater ecology, hydrology, GIS, and statistics in the second quarter of the program. These research experiences could be considered capstone experiences for graduating seniors.


In Person or Remote
Hybrid (F)
Hybrid (W)
Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting

SEM 2 D4107 - Workshop


Date Revision
2022-01-04 Required fee reduced to $50 in winter (was $290)