At the conclusion of this course, the student should be able to:
1. Apply methods of science and scientific investigation.
2. Analyze the basic principles and assumptions of ecology, including the cellular nature of life, correlation of structure and function, energy transformation, growth and development, evolution, and characteristics of systems.
3. Evaluate the relationship between physiological and anatomical adaptations of plants, animals, and aquatic organisms to environmental factors.
4. Examine the limiting factors for species and their effect on species distribution and community ecosystem structure.
5. Examine the basics of biosphere processes (climatic, physiographic, and biotic) and apply this knowledge to understanding the distribution of major biomes.
6. Diagram ecosystem structure and function, including trophic structure and function, productivity, and mineral cycles.
7. Examine current global and ecosystem level environmental problems and synthesize the application of ecosystem studies to their solutions.
8. Examine concepts in community ecology, including competition, species interactions, diversity, stability, vegetation ecology, island biogeography, and ecological succession, and apply them to current issues, park/preserve design, restoration, reforestation, and conservation.
9. Analyze population dynamics including patterns of distribution and dispersal, age structure, growth, "r" vs. "k" characteristics, interspecific and intraspecific factors, and apply these concepts to human population dynamics.
10. Synthesize the interplay of economic and ecological considerations for managing biosphere resources with examples in ecosystem management (e.g., forests, rangelands, wetlands, endangered species and the maintenance of biodiversity).
I. Ecology as Science
A. Ecology as a subdivision of biology
B. Scientific approaches to problems - science as a way of knowing
II. Foundational Principles
A. Cellular and chemical nature of life: basic chemistry, properties of water, and overview of cell structures and functions
B. Structure and function: physiological and anatomical adaptations
C. Energetics: photosynthesis, cellular respiration, and laws of thermodynamics
D. Growth and development
E. Evolution: species adaptations, speciation, and evolution of ecosystems
F. Characteristics of systems
III. Adaptations of Plants, Animals, and Aquatic Organisms
A. Limiting factors
B. Species distribution
C. Community and ecosystem structure
IV. Biosphere Structure and Function
A. Climate: precipitation, temperature, climatic zones, and climate change
B. Effects of climate on biogeography and formation of major landscape types (biomes)
V. Ecosystem Structure and Function
A. Principles of mineral cycles and energy flow
B. Trophic structure: productivity, energy flow in ecosystems, food chains and webs, and ecosystem structure
C. Mineral cycles: carbon cycle, nitrogen cycle, and water cycle
D. Issues in ecosystem resource management: global warming, water availability, water quality and pollution, human food supplies and sources, and application of ecosystem studies to agriculture
VI. Community Structure and Function
A. Interspecific competition: habitat and niche, competitive exclusion, and resource partitioning
B. Species interactions: predation, parasitism, mutualism, herbivorey, commensalism, and coevolution
C. Diversity, dominance, complexity, stability, resistance and resilience, and applications to resource management and tropical systems
D. Vegetation ecology: community structure and landscape ecology
E. Island biogeography: species diversity, migration, extinction and replacement rates, and applications to biodiversity, conservation biology, and preserve/park design
F. Ecological succession: primary, secondary, mechanisms of successional change, and applications to restoration (reforestation, mining, agriculture, etc.)
VII. Biodiversity: genetic, species, community, ecosystem, alpha, beta and gamma levels of diversity
VIII. Population Structure and Function
A. Patterns of distribution and dispersal
B. Age structure and life tables
C. Population growth: exponential growth and density dependent and independent growth limits
D. Dynamics of "r" and "k" selected species
E. Applications to human population dynamics and resource management
IX. Management and Conservation of Natural Resources
A. General principles of sustainable resource management
B. The interface of ecology and economics
C. Ecosystem management case studies (e.g., forests, rangelands, and wetlands)
D. Importance and maintenance of biodiversity: endangered species and ecosystems, and management for conservation