Plant Ecology and Physiology (Remote/In-Person)

Winter 2021
Junior - Senior
Class Size: 25
16 Credits per quarter
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This year,  Plant Ecology and Physiology  will have a special focus on  forest trees . The program will address questions such as how do trees sense and respond to changes in their external environment? What are the chemical signals produced by trees in response to external stimuli (light, gravity, temperature) and how are these signals amplified within the larger plant community? We will engage in the study of individual plants/trees (autecology), the interactions among plants/trees (synecology), and the physiological interactions of trees with their environment (tree ecophysiology). Students will learn field methods for studying plant community ecology and plant physiology including vegetation sampling methods, methods for measuring plant growth, photosynthesis, water-stress, and tree water-use. Lecture topics will include plant communities; competition and trophic cascades; tree growth and development; nutrient cycling and nutrient requirements; hormones; tree water-use; sap production and sugar transport; wood anatomy; dendrology, photosynthesis; rooting; plant genetics and reproduction; and the potential effects of large-scale disturbances, such as climate change, on plant communities. Our readings will be divided between current widely used texts in plant physiology and ecology, historical papers of great importance, and current research papers from technical journals.

Weekly field days and individualized field assignments will allow us to explore methods, conduct hands-on work, and conduct student-driven research on plant ecology and physiology. We will also have a 4-credit unit on Ecological Statistics. This is also a writing intensive program for technical science writing. Communication skills will be emphasized, particularly reading scientific articles and writing for scientific audiences.



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 ornithology. Ability to use plant taxonomic keys is especially encouraged.

Winter 2021 Registration

Signature Required

Students need to meet program prerequisites and have faculty permission to register. Please email Dylan Fischer for details and permission to register. 

Course Reference Numbers

Jr - Sr (16): 20225

Academic details

Preparatory for studies and careers in

biology, botany, ecology, environmental studies, field studies, natural history, and technical writing.

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing
Upper Division Science Credit

Upper-division science credit may be awarded in all areas of the program with satisfactory completion of all program work.


Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting



Date Revision
2020-11-10 Required fee removed
2020-11-10 This program is hybrid and will include in-person components